Kings XI Punjab are on a roll with four consecutive wins. Kolkata Knight Riders have bagged a big win over Delhi Capitals at the right time to steady their shaky campaign. With three games to go, both KKR and KXIP now cannot afford any slipups as they chase a spot in the top four.
Three of four KXIP’s win have come in Dubai but they convincingly trounced Royal Challengers Bangalore the last time they played in Sharjah. KKR, on the other hand, haven’t quite cracked the Sharjah code with two big losses – against DC and RCB. As KL Rahul’s men gear up to level with KKR, the contest could well have a final say in which team takes the fourth spot in the table once the league stage gets over.
Brendon McCullum has time and again urged his batsmen to show some intent. While Nitish Rana shrugged off his poor form, problems persist with both Shubman Gill and Rahul Tripathi. Sunil Narine’s return brought some much-needed runs in the middle-overs but Dinesh Karthik, who has managed scores of 30, 0, 1, 6, 12, 58, 1, 4, 29*, 4 and 3, hasn’t been able to find lost form despite giving up his captaincy. Eoin Morgan called the game against DC the “near-perfect game”. But he’s well aware the team is still carrying some misfiring ammunition with the batting department.
For KXIP, the resurgence has been led by the bowlers, especially at the death overs. Their stunning 12-run come-from-behind win was an example of how the bowling unit is now overshadowing the likes of KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran. The think-tank, however, might feel that the struggling Glenn Maxwell is soon becoming a liability with the bat having faced 100 balls for his 102 runs this season. Stunningly, he’s yet to hit a six so far.
While the two teams have found wins at crucial stages, they are far from delivering a perfect game. That perfect show, however, can’t wait anymore if they are to entertain hopes of challenging the top three once they make it to the playoffs.