Kings XI Punjab and Sunrisers Hyderabad are plagued with issues in the bowling department. When the two sides meet at the Dubai International Stadium on Thursday, the focus will be on the power-hitters.
Kings XI has been unlucky in its first two losses; one being in the Super Over against Delhi Capitals, followed by a miraculous run chase of 227 by Rajasthan Royals — the highest ever in the Indian Premier League. But got completely outplayed by Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings last week.
David Warner’s side joined the party after two early losses. It bounced back against Delhi, then it beat Chennai but found itself gagged against a strong Mumbai.
Besides Mohammed Shami, no other bowler has been consistent for Kings XI, especially at death. Sheldon Cottrell delivered in bits and pieces but the left-armer has been wicketless in his last three appearances. T20 specialist Chris Jordan did not cause much damage either.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s hip injury ruled him out of the tournament; Sunrisers roped in Prithvi Raj Yarra as his replacement but it remains to be seen if the Andhra pacer is included in the playing XI with seasoned campaigners Sandeep Sharma and Siddarth Kaul around.
But if Khaleel Ahmed isn’t fit, Prithvi Raj — who has played two IPL games for Kolkata Knight Riders in the past — may just sneak in.
There is a buzz that Kings XI may include hard-hitter Chris Gayle and finger-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman to bolster the combination. And in that case, Glenn Maxwell — who hasn’t fired yet — may have to sit out. Jordan can make way for Mujeeb, while the team management can also consider Ishan Porel as the second seamer.
The key men
Kings XI has scored more than 60 per cent of its runs from the opening combination. K.L. Rahul (302 runs) and Mayank Agarwal (272 runs) have been batting fearlessly from the start, and it will be a battle between the Kings XI openers and the Sunrisers bowling attack.
It will be also interesting to gauge Warner’s approach against a fiery Shami upfront. But Sunrisers’ middle-order is a cause for concern.
Squads (Probable XI)
Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 David Warner (c), Jonny Bairstow (wk), Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Priyam Garg, Abhishek Sharma, Abdul Samad, Rashid Khan, Sandeep Sharma, Siddarth Kaul, T Natarajan
Kings XI Punjab: 1 KL Rahul (c), Mayank Agarwal, Mandeep Singh, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Glenn Maxwell, Sarfaraz Khan, Chris Jordan/Mujeeb ur Rahman,Ishan Porel, Sheldon Cottrell, Mohammad Shami, Ravi Bishnoi
Match No. 22
Venue: Dubai International Stadium