The Kings XI Punjab were one of the poor teams last season, winning four matches in IPL 2016. But this year, things have started on a bright note for KXIP who have won two straight games, and are looking to maintain their unbeaten streak as they face Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday.
KKR, who won their first match against Gujarat Lions easily, lost to Mumbai Indians on Sunday. They will be keen to get back to their winning ways, but are likely to miss their big-hitter Chris Lynn, who injured his shoulder against Mumbai Indians while fielding. The KKR management have kept their fingers crossed as his scan reports are still awaited.
They should not think too much about Lynn, and plan their matches ahead accordingly. With no Lynn, Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir will open the innings, and they might replace the Australian with Shakib Al Hasan, who could contribute with both the bat and ball.
The KKR have a solid team, with all their bases covered. They have a good Indian contingent in the batting line-up, and depend on foreign players in their bowling unit. With Umesh Yadav returning to the squad, KKR bowling is looking even stronger. However, they need to balance their bowling unit well, with seamers and spinners.
For the KXIP, things have worked out brilliantly under the new captain, Glenn Maxwell, who has marshalled his troops brilliantly. They have emerged victorious against Rising Pune Supergiant and Royal Challengers Bangalore. More than that, he has led from the front with the bat in both the matches, inspiring his team to come up with better cricket every time they come onto the field.
The KXIP bowlers including Sandeep Sharma and Mohit Sharma will hold the key with the new ball as they can dismiss the KKR batsmen, and give their team a good advantage. The visitors have performed well in all departments of the game, which should give them the confidence to deliver and win their third straight match of IPL 2017.
If Maxwell's side beat KKR, they will be one of the most feared teams in IPL 2017.
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) schedule
Date:Thursday, 13 April
Time: 8 pm IST (2:30 pm GMT)
Venue: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
TV listings: India: Sony Six, Sony Six HD, Sony Max (Hindi), Sony ESPN and Sony ESPN HD (Telugu, Tamil, Bengali).UK: Sky Sports. USA: Willow TV. Middle East: OSN Sports Cricket HD.