Two good friends from Chennai, leading their respective sides and grappling to get a spot in the IPL playoffs. And they are in charge of talented, yet faltering teams. R Ashwin's KXIP will take on Dinesh Karthik's KKR and the winner will keep their chances of making it to the playoffs alive, while the loser will be on the brink of elimination. It promises to be an absolute scorcher in Mohali and both the leaders need to step up and lead their side with precision.
Predicted XI of both the sides:
Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin(c), Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Lynn, Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik(w/c), Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Sandeep Warrier, Harry Gurney
Fantasy tips and suggestions:
Wicket-keeper: It is a crunch match and Dinesh Karthik has to step up. He could walk in at number 4 and get the nod ahead of Nicholas Pooran who could struggle against the KKR spinners. Karthik has also found form in the recent games which augurs well for his side.
Batsmen: Chris Lynn and Shubman Gill have been going great guns for KKR at the top of the order and the management should stick with young Gill as an opener. On a true surface in Mohali, he can be a real game-changer, a factor that helps him get the nod along with Lynn to stay in the side.
For KXIP, it is the Gayle-KL combination which has to get the job done for the side. Both the batsmen have looked in good form but need to make a match-winning contribution, especially in this match.
All-rounders: Who else but Andre Russell. After plenty of comments, he was finally promoted to number 3 in the last game against Mumbai Indians and made an immediate impact. He should be persisted with in the top 4. Also, his temperament and skills with the ball will come in handy for KKR.
Spinners: R Ashwin believes he is right up there with the best spinners this season and he has the numbers to make this judgement. The skipper has led by example this year and has been a consistent performer in the middle overs.
Also, Mujeeb ur Rahman could play this match, which makes him a pick too as he could be a trump card against the marauding Andre Russell in the middle overs.
And then there is the proven performer in Sunil Narine, who has to get the job done against Chris Gayle and KL Rahul early in the piece to set the ball rolling for KKR.
Seamers: Mohali has proved to be an absolute belter for batting but Mohammed Shami has been good on the surface with his pace and accuracy. He is a definite pick.
Also, KKR should persist with Harry Gurney as his variations with the ball can come in handy against the fluent KXIP stroke-makers.