The best team of IPL 2014 against the in-form side on a ridiculous winning streak – Kings XI Punjab vs Kolkata Knight Riders Qualifier 1 of the IPL 2014 playoffs promises to be a humdinger of an encounter at India's most famous ground – the Eden Gardens.
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Qualifier 1 is scheduled for a 4 pm IST (11.30 am BST, 6.30 am ET) start with live coverage on Sony Six and Sony Max in India. The match can also be watched via live streaming online HERE or HERE. Viewers in the US can catch the game on Willow TV or with the live streaming option HERE, while Canada viewers can do the same HERE. Watch the match in the rest of the world HERE, HERE or through the GoCricket apps. Viewers in the Middle East can watch the action HERE, while New Zealand viewers can do the same HERE or via the above rest of the world options.
KXIP have been the most exciting side in IPL 7, playing a wonderful brand of attacking cricket to storm their way to the top of the table, winning 11 of their 14 games.
However, as dominating as they might have been in the league phase, the nature of the playoffs is such that one bad game and you could find yourselves behind the eight-ball.
"Past records don't really indicate anything," said KXIP coach Sanjay Bangar, who has been extremely impressive at the helm. "The teams that have got to the playoffs have played really good cricket and whichever team plays well on that particular day will definitely have an edge.
"The key is to not think too far ahead and try and do the things that we are good at, and also challenge our own limitations. That has been the emphasis for our team. We have not really gone beyond that. That has helped us play consistent cricket over a longer period of time."
The beauty of finishing in the top two of the table is that you get two bites at making the IPL final. KXIP and KKR have done the first part exceedingly well, and neither team will want to go through a knockout match to get to the summit clash, making the match, postponed by a day due to rain, quite crucial.
While Kings XI Punjab have been quite impressive overall, it is KKR who are on a tremendous run of form at the moment, winning their last seven games to steal second place in the most amazing manner.
That unbelievable victory over the Sunrisers Hyderabad will still be fresh in their minds, and Gautam Gambhir will want his team to take the momentum from the game when they face Kings XI.
"We are going to have to be on our A game," KKR coach Trevor Bayliss said. "They are a good team, a very good batting team and they could easily turn that around so we have to stay focused and concentrate on what we are doing.
"To give yourself a chance you need to win the qualifier and then to give yourself chance in that you need to play good, confident cricket and I feel that's where we are at. But that doesn't guarantee anything. We are up against three very good teams."
KKR will know the importance of picking up a victory in front of their own fans, as taking your fate to the knockout Qualifier 2 in Mumbai will be a dangerous prospect. Playing a game at home, in your comfort zone, is as good a chance as you are likely to get to qualifying for the IPL 2014 final.
Kings XI, on the other hand, would have preferred any opposition other than KKR at the Eden Gardens. "We're looking forward to it because Eden produces some great cricket because of the crowd and the atmosphere that is created," Bangar added. "It's good to have that sort of challenge. I just feel that we'll revel in those challenging conditions."
The two games in the league phase between the two sides were not exactly thrill-a-minute high-scorers, which had everyone on the edge of their seats. However, with two teams in terrific form, the run-scoring might just be cranked up come Wednesday, if weather permits.
Expected lineups: Kings XI Punjab: Manan Vohra, Virender Sehwag, Wriddhiman Saha, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, George Bailey (capt), Akshar Patel, Rishi Dhawan, Mitchell Johnson, Karanveer Singh, Sandeep Singh.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (capt), Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan, Ryan Ten Doeschate, Suryakumar Yadav, R Vinay Kumar, Morne Morkel, Sunil Narine, Umesh Yadav.