Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) are all set to take on the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in their adopted 'home' in Pune on Saturday at the MCA stadium.
KXIP are a dangerous side on papers but the results have not been to their liking as they could only manage to win one out of three matches they have played. KKR, on the other hand, after their comprehensive win over Mumbai Indians in their first match, were taken apart by Chris Gayle's match winning knock at the Eden Gardens last Saturday.
KKR will be in action after six days and they will be missing the services of Shakib al Hasan as he has gone back to feature for Bangladesh against Pakistan. They have ample resources in their bench so it will not be difficult for them to find Shakib's replacement. Meanwhile, KXIP, most likely will not like to change their squad but they need to play as a cohesive unit. Here are some of the key clashes from this high-voltage match:
Virender Sehwag vs Morne Morkel: The Pune wicket has a tinge of grass on it and that is the kind of wicket on which Morkel would love to bowl. His pace, bounce and movement off the deck can cause some serious trouble to any batsman in the world. Sehwag would like to play his natural game and would look to hit the ball from the word go. It won't be easy against Morkel but Sehwag is a class act too.
Robin Uthappa vs Sandeep Sharma: Uthappa has not made a mark in this eighth edition of the IPL so far. He is a good player of swing bowling as Sandeep Sharma has been brilliant in this tournament. He is getting the ball to swing into the batsmen and creating serious issues. But he should not stray on to Uthappa's pads as he is terrific on the leg side.
Gautam Gambhir vs Mitchell Johnson: Gambhir, arguably, has been the best batsman for KKR this season. With two back-to-back half-centuries, he is trying to lead his side from the front. Johnson on the other hand, has been bowling well but has ended up being on the losing side. He would look to trouble Gambhir with his short pitch deliveries and by bowling at the corridor of uncertainty.
Glenn Maxwell vs Sunil Narine: KXIP's hitman Glenn Maxwell has been getting out cheaply in their last three matches. He was brilliant in the last season in the middle-order for KXIP and now he needs to repeat the same for his side, which is low on confidence. He will be up against the most economic bowler of KKR, Sunil Narine. Ths crafty spinner from the Caribbean has troubled the best in the world with his variations.
Axar Patel vs Andre Russell: Patel has not been effective like the last season. But he can bring down the run rate during the middle overs quite brilliantly. Russell on the other hand, likes to hit the ball a long way and he would not want to hold himself back. But it is going to be difficult to play his shots against this lanky left-arm spinner.
KXIP desperately need a win to boost their confidence and KKR would want to continue with their dominance over KXIP. A thrilling encounter on the cards.