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Kings XI Punjab, the only undefeated team in Pepsi IPL 2014, take on the Kolkata Knight Riders in the 15th match of the season.
KXIP have been unstoppable; they’ve steamrolled all their three opponents so far and are comfortably perched at the top of the table with six points and a very healthy net run-rate. Their opponents have been unsuccessful – for most parts – in their attempts to stop Glenn Maxwell and David Miller, while the KXIP bowlers even rolled over Sunrisers Hyderabad in their most recent match.
KKR, on the other hand, will be riding high after their two-run victory over the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Despite posting a modest 150, they were disciplined during RCB’s run-chase, and strangled a formidable RCB line-up that could only score 25 runs in the last four overs.
Saturday, April 26, 2014, 8 pm IST
Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Every player in the KKR batting line-up – apart from their skipper Gautam Gambhir – has made runs at least in one of their three matches so far this season. There is no denying that Gambhir has received some very good deliveries; but in his pomp, the southpaw would have found an answer to get on top of them. He will be a key character in KKR’s plans – and after the victory in the previous match, one hopes the feel-good factor would help Gambhir break his ill-fated streak of ducks. On the bowling front, Sunil Narine has been – by miles – the best performer for the Men in Purple and Gold. Not only does he pick wickets, he also keeps the runs down.
KXIP have ridden on the performances of two men – Glenn Maxwell and David Miller. The two overseas batsmen have so far contributed 66.6 percent of the runs scored by the team. Need we say more?
Notes from previous match
Kolkata Knight Riders v Royal Challengers Bangalore: KKR were at least 15-20 runs short in their previous match. Yet they bowled and fielded brilliantly to deny RCB the two points they nearly pocketed. Chris Lynn’s catch – which set the social media platforms abuzz - just reiterates the old adage “Catches win Matches”. The area of concern for the team remains the lack of runs from the top order; Gautam Gambhir and Manish Pandey managed just five runs between them. On the bowling front, there were positives and negatives; they bowled 17 dot balls in the powerplay overs, but gave away nine boundaries in that period.
Kings XI Punjab v Sunrisers Hyderabad: It was the near-perfect match for KXIP. Cheteshwar Pujara and Virender Sehwag saw through the first few overs without being flashy and laid the foundation from which Glenn Maxwell could launch. That was the one area of concern for KXIP in the earlier matches and they will be pleased that problem has been addressed. The one other glitch in the earlier match was dropped catches – two of them – at the end of the SRH run-chase – by Rishi Dhawan and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha.
The Kolkata Knight Riders have a 6-5 win-loss record in matches against Kings XI Punjab. Both teams won their respective home matches when they clashed last season. KXIP eked out their opponents by four runs (after posting 157 while batting first) at Mohali. In the return encounter at Kolkata, KKR restricted KXIP to 149 for six and cruised to a six-wicket win in the 19th over.
Kings XI Punjab have now won their last 6 matches in the IPL making it their longest winning streak.
No player has scored more runs in a series of 3 consecutive innings in the IPL than Glenn Maxwell, who has now scored 279 runs in three innings in Pepsi IPL 2014.
Kolkata Knight Riders’ will remain in Abu Dhabi to take on the Rajasthan Royals on April 29, while Kings XI Punjab’s next fixture is against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Dubai on April 28.
Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals will go head to head in Match 14 of Pepsi IPL 2014. Both teams have played three matches so far this season. RR’s solitary victory was when they defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad in their season opener, while RCB defeated Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians before going down to KKR most recently.
Both teams will be annoyed and hurting given that despite holding a firm grip on the match for the better part of 40 overs, they couldn’t finish things off. RR restricted a formidable Chennai Super Kings line-up to 140, but there weren’t too many partnerships when it was their turn to bat and the team folded up eight runs short of their target.
Royal Challengers Bangalore were in the driver’s seat at the start of the final over of the run-chase. Needing six off the final three balls, the scales tilted in favour of their opponents, Kolkata Knight Riders, when Chris Lynn pulled off a stunner at the midwicket boundary to send back the dangerous AB de Villiers. Albie Morkel managed only three more runs off the final two deliveries, leaving RCB three short of their target of 151.
Saturday, April 26, 2014, 4 pm IST
Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson are Rajasthan Royals’ top run-getters so far this season. Despite playing cricket the orthodox way, both players have proven that they have cracked the code to be successful even in this fast-paced format. The one player who needs to come good – and who can blow away any opposition on his own – is Shane Watson; the Australian is comfortably the franchise’s top run-getter and needs to start pulling his weight in the team – more so now since he is the captain.
If Chris Gayle takes the field – questions on whether he has recovered completely remain unanswered – he will surely count as the most destructive player in the match. In his absence – and given that Yuvraj Singh isn’t at his fluent best – RCB will need their captain Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers to come up with the goods.
Notes from Previous match
Rajasthan Royals v Chennai Super Kings: 4, 22 and 10 – those are the runs added by RR’s opening pair so far this season. In a format where it is important to grab the advantage early on, RR will know their opening pair hasn’t done the job – it is even more criminal if the openers have been separated by means of a run-out, something that has happened twice. RR will also know that they need to build partnerships; the highest partnership in the previous match was the 28-run association between the ninth-wicket pair. The other area RR will look to improve upon is maintaining discipline in the bowling; they conceded 11 runs through wides in the previous match – and given that the difference between the two teams in the final analysis was only 8 runs – RR will have noticed that they need to tighten up on this front. Royal Challengers Bangalore v Kolkata Knight Riders: To put it in simple terms, RCB will know they messed up what should have been a simple run-chase. The one area they can definitely improve upon is their performance with the bat in the middle overs. Between overs seven and 15, the RCB innings suffered 20 dot balls. The one other fact they will have made note of is that the batsmen hit only three boundaries in the final five-over stretch of the innings – despite having fearsome batsmen like Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Yuvraj Singh and Albie Morkel at the crease during that period. The other startling fact is that despite the depth and firepower in their batting, RCB only managed one maximum in their innings.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore have a slight edge heading into this contest against the Rajasthan Royals; they have won 6 of the 11 matches they’ve played against the Jaipur franchise.
Memorable performances in RR-RCB matches include Ajinkya Rahane’s maiden IPL century – at Bangalore in IPL 2012 – and Anil Kumble’s incredible spell of five for five – at Cape Town in 2009.
Royal Challengers Bangalore have conceded the fewest sixes of all teams this season – 4
Rajasthan Royals have conceded the most runs through wides and no balls this season – 24. What Next
Royal Challengers Bangalore will square off against Kings XI Punjab next – at the Dubai International Stadium on April 28. Rajasthan Royals, meanwhile, will stay put at Abu Dhabi to take on the Kolkata Knight Riders on April 29.