In what could be a clash that could very well decide which side qualifies for the playoffs, 4th placed Kolkata Knight Riders will take on 5th placed Kings XI Punjab in Sharjah on Monday. With just 3 games left for each side to play, the winner tomorrow will be in prime position to clinch 4th spot.
Kolkata Knight Riders - W L W
Having stolen matches from under the nose of their opponents in the first half of the season, the Knight Riders, on Saturday, put out their most complete performance of IPL 2020. The injection of Sunil Narine - and the subsequent genius move to use him as a floater - did wonders to the side and the positivity the West Indian brought to the fore rubbed off on the entire squad, who demolished Delhi Capitals. With just three more games left, there is no room for inconsistency, thus the Morgan-led side would be hoping for an encore of Saturday.
Kings XI Punjab - W W W
From not being able to win matches to not being able to lose from the most losable position, Kings XI Punjab’s IPL 2020 season has taken a 180-degree turn. Astonishingly, on Saturday, they defended a meagre 126 versus SRH and what was commendable was the urgency and the desire to win shown by the players, who seem hell-bent on making the playoffs. They have now won four on the bounce, but a fifth win on Monday will make them the favourites to clinch the fourth spot that’s up for grabs.
Kolkata Knight Riders - Nitish Rana
After a horrid run in the mid-part of the tournament, Nitish Rana found some much-needed form in the weekend encounter versus Delhi. In his new-found role of an opener, the stylish southpaw weathered the early storm before, alongside Narine, teeing off to put some bang average bowling from Delhi to the sword. The 81 on Saturday will give him a world of confidence, and given KXIP have two leggies in their armoury, Rana’s proficiency will be key come Monday. Mind you, he already has one fifty in Sharjah this season.
Kings XI Punjab - Nicholas Pooran
A puzzling 32* from Pooran with two fours and no sixes initially left viewers puzzled, but the true value of his knock was only learnt post the conclusion of the game. Be it providing a flourish towards the end or counter-punching opponents to swerve momentum or slaughtering bowlers with utter disdain, the southpaw has done it all this season and has done so without breaking an ounce of sweat. So good has Pooran been this season that a dip in form for Rahul - by his ridiculously high standards, that is - has hardly affected the team’s progress. Pooran’s record in Sharjah this season is 31* (9) with four sixes, so KKR will know what to expect.
Kolkata Knight Riders - Varun Chakravarthy
From being smashed into oblivion by Sunil Narine on his IPL debut to becoming KKR’s number one spinner ahead of the West Indian, Varun Chakravarthy’s rise in the IPL has been one for the publications. The ‘architect’ of KKR’s win versus Delhi, Chakravarthy’s five-for was the rightful reward for the consistency he’s displayed all season. In 10 matches this season, the mystery spinner has claimed 12 scalps at an astounding ER of 7.05 and what’s stood out is his versatility. A facet of Chakravarthy’s bowling has been the proficiency with which he’s bowled in all three phases of the game, and that will be tested against a strong Kings XI side on Monday. One presumes he’d take with both hands what he dished out vs RCB in his last outing in Sharjah, 0/25 versus a rampant Kohli and AB.
Kings XI Punjab - Chris Jordan
It took Chris Jordan a month to settle, but ever since doing so, the Englishman has been exceptional. Jordan bowled important and economical spells versus both RCB and MI - including a Super Over against the latter - but he showcased his true potential in the last encounter versus the Sunrisers, finishing with figures of 3/17 to help Punjab defend 127. Jordan becomes key for KXIP due to the kind of firepower KKR have at the death, yes, but he will also be crucial in bouncing out someone like a Narine, who will look to up the ante in the middle overs.
Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah
When to Watch: Oct 26, 7.30 PM IST
Where to Watch: Star Sports Network and Hotstar (in India)