MOHALI: A play-offs spot having sealed after a resounding victory in their previous match, Kolkata Knight Riders would aim for a top-two finish with a win when they take on an inconsistent Kings XI Punjab in an IPL match here tomorrow.
KKR bounced back from their back-to-back defeats when they registered an easy six-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in Bengaluru yesterday.
The Gautam Gambhir-led side are now at second spot in the league table with 16 points from 12 matches with the help of eight wins and they would look to consolidate their position with a win over Kings XI, who suffered a six-wicket defeat to Gujarat Lions last night.
KKR showed why they are one of the strongest teams in this IPL when they inflicted a humiliating defeat on bottom place RCB.
Chasing a modest 159 for victory yesterday, KKR made it easy, racing to 105 for no loss in just six overs, for a record IPL powerplay total.
They achieved the target with 29 balls to spare on the back of Sunil Narine's (54 off 17 balls) record joint fastest IPL fifty -- from 15 balls -- and an equally aggressive knock from Chris Lynn (50 off 22 balls).
After the match, Gambhir said that 105 in six overs was unbelievable and it was the best partnership he had seen in his entire career.
KKR will, however, need to watch out in so far as they have been cashing in on the hit-and-miss experiment of using Narine at the top. When Narine gets going, there was no stopping them as more often than not Gambhir and Robin Uthappa have capitalised on the solid starts given by the West Indian.
Narine has come out as an opener in nine matches out of KKR's 12 so far and he has scored 194 runs.
KKR's other batsmen like Colin de Grandhomme, Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan will also have to come good tomorrow.
Umesh Yadav, Chris Woakes and Narine will be the main bowlers on whom KKR will mainly bank upon with Ankit Rajpoot and Piyush Chawla also having the ability to support them.
Glenn Maxwell-led KXIP, on the other hand, have a slender chance to make it to the play-offs as they have only five wins from 11 matches and are placed at the fifth spot with 10 points. They now need to win all their remaining three matches if they have to have any chance of making it to the knock-out stage.
Their chances of a play-offs berth were severely dented by their six-wicket defeat at the hands of Gujarat Lions last night. The home side were on a roll with back-to-back wins, but defeat at the hands of Gujarat Lions caused a serious dent to their play-off hopes.
Despite posting 189 for 3 on the board, courtesy opener Hashim Amla's century, KXIP bowlers failed to restrict Gujarat Lions, who rode on a 39-ball 74 by their top batsman Dwayne Smith. KXIP were also sloppy on the field, giving two lives to Smith.
Inconsistency has been KXIP's ban in the IPL and they again failed to rise to the occasion against Gujarat Lions in a match which they should have won. Now, every match they play will be a knock-out game. After KKR, they face formidable Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiant, which will make it an uphill task for them.
KXIP's South African import Hashim Amla has been their main batsmen with 400-plus runs, which includes two centuries -- against Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Lions.
Besides Amla and Maxwell, they have batsmen of calibre like Martin Guptill, Shaun Marsh, Manan Vohra, Wriddhiman Saha and Axar Patel but they will need to fire in unison.
With just over 200 runs from 11 matches, Maxwell should consider promoting himself up the order to take on the opposition attack right from the start.
The Teams (From):
Kings XI Punjab: Glenn Maxwell (C), David Miller, Manan Vohra, Hashim Amla, Shaun Marsh, Darren Sammy, Wriddhiman Saha, Nikhil Naik, Ishant Sharma, Armaan Jaffer, Martin Guptill, Eoin Morgan, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Arman Jaffer, Anureet Singh, Mohit Sharma, KC Cariappa, Pradeep Sahu, Swapnil Singh, T Natrajan, Matt Henry, Varun Aaron, Axar Patel, Marcus Stoinis, Gurkeerat Mann, Rahul Tewatia.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (C), Darren Bravo, Yusuf Pathan, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa (wk), Umesh Yadav, Suryakumar Yadav, Ankit Rajpoot, Trent Boult, Piyush Chawla, Nathan Coulter Nile, Colin De Grandhomme, Rishi Dhawan, Sayan Ghosh, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Ishank Jaggi, Kuldeep Yadav, Chris Woakes, Chris Lynn, Manish Pandey.
Match starts at 8pm.