After beginning their season with back-to-back wins, Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) suffered a hammering at the hands of a resilient Kolkata Knight Riders side at Eden Gardens on Thursday. As a result, they now find themselves fourth in the points table.
The match against Delhi Daredevils provides an opportunity for Glenn Maxwell’s team to return to winning ways. Keeping in mind their opposition and the conditions on offer at the Feroz Shah Kotla, this could be the likely 11 for KXIP.
A steady supplier of runs from the top of the order, Amla has managed scores of 28, 58* and 25 thus far. However, he faced 27 deliveries each in the first and third game meaning that his strike-rate could be under a bit of scrutiny. Nevertheless, his experience and solidity might be enough to stave off competition from the likes of Shaun Marsh and Martin Guptill.
Having managed a couple of explosive starts, Vohra will be eager to make a significant score against Delhi Daredevils. However, the task is easier said than done as the likes of Zaheer Khan and Pat Cummins will be lurking in wait.
The number three position has been a jigsaw puzzle for Kings XI. While Axar Patel and Marcus Stoinis have also featured in the slot, Saha’s shot-making as well as the ability to construct an innings could be just what the team needs. Aside from being a dependable batsman, his work behind the stumps is quite exemplary too.
Apart from leading the side with panache, Maxwell has been Punjab’s best batsman. The explosive right-hander is capable of tearing apart any bowling attack and his performances will go a long way in influencing the team’s season. If he gets in, the Victorian should eye a substantial knock.
With his proven track record in the IPL and reputation of being calm under pressure, Miller remains the other pillar of Kings XI’s middle-order. As evidenced by his exploits in Indore and Kolkata, he is shaping up to be an ideal foil for Maxwell.
Even though he has only managed 9 runs and 1 wicket until now, Stoinis could still keep his slot in the playing 11 owing to Punjab’s lack of viable all-rounders. The 27-year-old struggled to come to terms with the Eden Gardens surface. He cannot afford a similar display with the bat.
Armed with relentless accuracy, Axar is the premier spinner in the side. While his promotion to number three might not happen again, his presence in the middle-overs becomes vital to Kings XI’s bowling fortunes. He should enjoy bowling on the Feroz Shah Kotla surface which has more often than not aided spin.
The absence of a second specialist spinner hurt KXIP’s chances in the game against KKR. In this regard, the team management could bring in Swapnil Singh. The left-armer had bowled a couple of tidy overs against RPS and got the wicket of MS Dhoni. Even though the temptation to go for a leg-spinner may be strong, his handy batting skills should tilt the scales in his favor.
One of the finds of Kings XI Punjab over the last few seasons, Sandeep has grown in stature to emerge as the linchpin in their seam attack. Despite being slightly off-color against Gautam Gambhir and company, he is expected to rebound quickly with the new-ball in the Daredevils clash.
With his extra pace, Aaron was quite impressive in the game against his old franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore. Confronted by another of his previous employers Delhi Daredevils, the fast bowler will be focused on delivering a timely spell.
After playing the first two games of the season, Natarajan was left out for the match against the Knight Riders. The mystery seamer is likely to get back into the playing 11 this time around. If the pitch shows signs of sluggishness, his assortment of cutters and slower deliveries could turn out to be difficult to negotiate.