Kings XI Punjab have hit a brick wall in their last two games, losing to Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils after a fiery start to IPL 2017. The explosive side will hope to get back to winning ways against Sunrisers Hyderabad, who also have two wins from their first four.
Efficient bowling and sheer power ensured the Kings XI stormed to two successful chases against Rising Pune Supergiant and Royal Challengers Bangalore, but both have been found wanting since.
With just four matches played, there’s no reason for the KXIP to make big changes yet, but captain Glenn Maxwell was to the point about his team’s weaknesses in an uncomfortable press conference following the loss to Delhi - which could put heat on the overseas players. More options will be available for the Kings once Shaun Marsh and Martin Guptill are fully fit.
Here’s the Punjab XI which look likely to take to the field in Hyderabad on Monday night.
Hashim Amla hasn’t recorded a spectacular knock as yet in IPL 2017, but the classy South African is due for one and remains a rock in the Punjab line-up. Perfectly designed to be the anchor of the side, they’ll be hoping that Amla can go on from his good starts to post a big one, and in doing so free up the middle-order – which hasn’t quite hit top gear – to take more risks and find their touch.
Kings XI have been generous in opening with Manan Vohra so far but the young Indian has struggled to repay the faith so far, with only 79 runs from four innings. He looked threatening against Royal Challengers Bangalore with a 21-ball 34 but could muster only three runs in the failed chase versus Delhi. Opening with Amla is a luxury for Vohra, as has Punjab’s patience, but it’s time he made his mark.
Wriddhiman Saha has been nowhere near his best of late, and India’s Test wicket-keeper needs to step up to reverse Kings XI’s decline. With a paltry 44 runs from three innings, he’s a burden coming in at first drop. Dropping down the order seems a natural move if his poor form continues, but expect Punjab to persist for a little longer with him at three.
Eoin Morgan played his first game of IPL 2017 against Delhi, making 22 as the Kings failed to hit their stride. The wristy Irishman is an asset to any T20 side with his ability to strike the ball in any direction, but it’s hard to know exactly what form Morgan is in, with little match time over the past month – although he did strike a ton for England against West Indies in an ODI in early March. Kings XI could do with him getting a big one.
Expect Glenn Maxwell to come out against Sunrisers with a point to prove after a fiery press conference following the Delhi match saw his proficiency against leg-spinners brought into question. Maxwell was hard on all facets of his team for their recent poor showings, and it’s up to the captain to stand up with one of his trademark blitzes. Impressive unbeaten knocks of 44 and 43 got his season off and running nicely, but he was dismissed for a duck last time out.
David Miller is perhaps one of the players that Maxwell took aim at during the press conference. The hard-hitting South African has had plenty of starts in IPL 2017 but has stalled in the 20s when Punjab could have done with him kicking on. With his team in need of a victory, this is a brilliant chance for Miller to announce himself in this competition.
Another Indian youngster Kings XI have belief in, Axar Patel showed against Delhi just why. In a hapless chase, the 23-year-old came in late on, clattering a rapid 44, admittedly while under little expectation. With the ball, Axar has picked up a wicket in each game but has been a tad expensive lately. Still, an increasingly handy addition to the line-up.
Mohit Sharma has had a bad IPL so far, taking just one wicket in four games, and going for 30 or more each time. With Punjab’s bowling letting them down lately, they need all the international bowling prowess they can get, given the absence of overseas players in this department – it’s time Mohit delivered.
KC Cariappa came from nowhere to be selected for Kolkata Knight Riders in the 2015 IPL. Now plying his trade for Kings XI, the spinner was one of few who escaped Delhi’s assault on Saturday – taking 1 for 23. That was his first game of IPL 2017, and he’s earned himself a second.
Varun Aaron may have taken two wickets against Delhi, but he was very costly, conceding 45. He was expensive when Kings XI played Kolkata as well, but far more impressive in his first match of the year against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Inconsistency has plagued the speedster’s career, but with his express pace, he has the tools to threaten any opposition.
Sandeep Sharma could be key if he goes up against David Warner – the in-form Aussie has been essential in getting the Sunrisers going, but Sandeep has got him out twice early before in IPL. Most of the Punjab bowlers, Sandeep included, got plundered against Delhi, but he’s been pricey in every outing. He could do with a big game.