The mankading incident took away the shine from Kings XI Punjab’s (KXIP) victory over Rajasthan Royals (RR) in their season opener, but it can’t hide the fact that the Lions’ bowlers were impressive. KKR on the other hand left it a bit late, and only Andre Russell’s power hitting helped turn a seeming defeat into victory.
KXIP has a history of getting off to good starts and then faltering at the back end of a season – in 2018, the Ravichandran Ashwin-led side won 5 out of their opening 6 matches, but could only win two more in the remaining fixtures.
KKR under Dinesh Karthik is yet to find its feet, but the fact that they finished third in 2018 will give them confidence. Historically, KKR have the edge over KXIP, having won 15 out of their 23 previous meetings. At the Eden Gardens, KXIP have lost just one out of their previous six matches
It’s a night game at the Eden Gardens, and traditionally in such games it is the off-break bowler who dominates – choking the opposition batting, picking up wickets and keeping the boundaries down.
Here’s how offies have gone at the Gardens under lights:
Breaking it down further, this is how offies with a cut off of at least 200 balls bowled have fared in night games at the Gardens:
KKR and KXIP are among the top two teams when it comes to the boundary percentage and in the middle phase (Overs 7 to 15), KKR and KXIP are just behind Mumbai Indians, who top the table with a boundary percentage of 17.06. It goes without saying that we can expect a lot of boundaries in this fixture.
Battle among off-spinners: The contest between Ashwin and Sunil Narine is potentially the key to the game, on a track favouring off spinners.
Big hitters: In the temporary absence of David Miller, KXIP does not have anyone who can go big at the death. Sam Curran was slotted in to come in at No. 7 against RR in their opening game, implying that they do not have the depth they had hoped for. Someone like Moises Henriques coming in for Curran adds to the bowling and more importantly deepens the batting. Henriques could still get in if KL Rahul is given the gloves in place of Nicholas Pooran.
KXIP: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, Nicholas Pooran/Moises Henriques, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Ankit Rajpoot
KXIP found in its opening game that going in with just 5 bowlers was cutting it too close and, as a result, may be tempted to add another all-rounder in the team
KKR: Dinesh Karthik (c & wk), Piyush Chawla, Robin Uthappa, Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Kuldeep Yadav, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson/Harry Gurney, Shubman Gill
Considering that he had a good stint in the BBL, KKR might be tempted to bring Harry Gurney into the XI in place of Lockie Ferguson to add a bit of variation to their attack. However, at the Eden Gardens, left-hand pacers are among those who have the highest economy rates against both left and right-handed batsmen.