After Chennai Super Kings’ last over victory against Royal Challengers, Kings XI Punjab have slipped to the second spot. They will surely look forward to get full points against Sunrisers Hyderabad and regain the top position in the league table.
Kings XI Punjab, since the beginning of the season, looked promising under the hood of calm and intelligent captain Ravichandran Ashwin. The offspinner has been very good controlling his players. Thanks to his able leadership, despite having almost no big international name in the squad, Kings XI have won all but one game they played.
On the other hand, Kane Williamson will be the one captaining Sunrisers. The Kiwi opening batsman is another star skipper of the season. He has been brilliant with his bat as well, and he will be aiming for two points against the in-form Kings XI on Thursday.
Sunrisers Hyderabad had one of the most memorable outings last time they took the field. Batting first against Mumbai Indians, Williamson and co got bundled out for a paltry 118 within 18.4 overs. It was an easy chase for Mumbai, but Rashid Khan and Siddharth Kaul thought otherwise. Extraordinary bowling from the duo provided necessary breakthroughs for Sunrisers. Kane’s aggressive captaincy also aided the side contain runs throughout Mumbai innings. In the end, Rohit Sharma’s Mumbai got all out in 87, with seven balls to spare and Hyderabad got a well-deserved victory.
It was a similar game for Kings XI Punjab as well. They set a target of 144 for Delhi Daredevils. However, except Shreyas Iyer, no other Delhi batsman looked comfortable in front of the Punjab bowling attack. Ankit Rajpoot, Andrew Tye and Mujeeb Ur Rahman picked two wickets each to ensure the fifth victory of the campaign for Ashwin’s side.
Sunrisers missed their main bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the last match. It’s still unclear whether he will be fit on time. If not, Sandeep Sharma and Basil Thampi will continue their run; but if Bhuvi makes a return, chances are high Thampi will have to make way. Although Sandeep was less impressive against Mumbai, his records against Chris Gayle has been very good over the seasons.
In a similar way, all eyes of the Kings XI fans will be on the availability of Gayle, who had to sit the last match out due to injury. The West Indian was very impressive after coming in to the first eleven, and has already scored a ton. The opening pair of Gayle and KL Rahul is the strong forte for Punjab, while the middle order might need some shuffling. Especially, Ashwin may have to make a tough call about Aaron Finch, who has scored 16 runs from 4 innings. Should Gayle play, Miller is the likely candidate to be slotted in the Kings XI middle order ahead of the Australian.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Shikhar Dhawan, Kane Williamson (C), Manish Pandey, Wriddhiman Saha (Wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Basil Thampi, Siddharth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma.
Kings XI Punjab: Chris Gayle/Aaron Finch, KL Rahul (C), Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, David Miller, Yuvraj Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Barinder Sran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Ankit Rajpoot.