Big-money signing Ben Stokes will be playing in his last match for Rising Pune Supergiant when his team faces Kings XI Punjab on Sunday, May 14. The player will leave for international duty after this match, and the team management will hope for a brilliant performance from the all-rounder to help them qualify for the IPL 2017 Playoffs.
The Kings XI Punjab, on the other hand, have played some wonderful cricket in their last couple of the matches, and a victory against RPS will ensure their passage to the Playoffs.
It is a winner-takes-all match in Pune, where the home team can even seal the second spot if they beat KXIP. Hence, both the teams will be keen to get their best team combinations right. They need to have a look at all the pros and cons before deciding their playing XI.
RPS might go with the same team, which they played against Delhi Daredevils, but they need a better performance from all their players, else they could be out of IPL 2017. Despite Ajinkya Rahane being out of touch, there is no way that Steve Smith will drop such an experienced player in a do-or-die encounter.
But, Rahane has to deliver now. On the same lines, Dhoni needs to use his willow, and help Rising Pune Supergiant cross the finishing line too while in-from players like Rahul Tripathi, Steve Smith and Stokes have to perform once again.
In Imran Tahir's absence, Adam Zampa will be their key spinner, while pacers Jaydev Unadkat, Shardul Thakur and Stokes need to take important wickets.
One thing is for sure, KXIP will not tinker their batting line-up. They have some genuine match-winners in their line-up, including Martin Guptill, Glenn Maxwell, Shaun Marsh and with Wriddhiman Saha coming back to form, they make a quality unit.
They might think about making some changes in their bowling line-up. With Matt Henry going for big runs in their last match, KXIP could contemplate giving Darren Sammy his first game. His all-round skills could come in handy.
However, it remains to be seen if Ishant Sharma retains his place. If they are looking for a spinner, Swapnil Singh could be his replacement. They will once again look for the services of Sandeep Sharma and Mohit Sharma with the ball.
Confirmed playing XI
RPS: Rahul Tripathi, Ajinkya Rahane, Steven Smith (capt), Manoj Tiwary, MS Dhoni (wk), Ben Stokes, Dan Christian, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadkat, Adam Zampa
Kings XI Punjab: Martin Guptill, Eoin Morgan, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell (capt), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Axar Patel, Rahul Tewatia, Swapnil Singh, Ishant Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma