With Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) beating Gujarat Lions (GL) on Saturday, Sunday’s 4pm match between Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) has become a straight shootout to see which team joins Mumbai Indians, Sunrisers and Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL 2017 playoffs. The fact that Kings XI have a vastly superior net run-rate isn’t actually consequential because of the difference in the points of the teams (Pune’s 16 to Kings XI’s 14). However, a Kings XI win will put them in the playoffs on account of their better net run-rate, +0.296 to Pune’s -0.083.
Glenn Maxwell and co. won the reverse fixture at the Holkar Stadium in Indore, where the Punjab captain himself led his team to their first win of this season by scoring a 20-ball 44 and forging an unbeaten 79-run stand for the fifth wicket with David Miller (30*).
RPS vs KXIP Head-to-head
With their win earlier this season, Kings XI lead the head-to-head record against Pune by 2-1. This is, however, the first time that these two teams will lock horns at the MCA Stadium in Pune.
Supergiant: LWWWW (from left to right, most recent result first; current position on the points table: 4th)
Kings XI: WWLWW (current position on the points table: 5th)
Match 55: RPS vs KXIP Playing XI
Imran Tahir’s absence did not adversely affect Pune Supergiant in their last match, with Adam Zampa proving to be a very good replacement and the rest of the bowling unit producing another disciplined performance. The approach adopted by the Pune batsmen wasn’t right and the lack of proactiveness in the 169-run chase ultimately cost Steve Smith’s men against Delhi Daredevils.
However, having won four of their last five matches with pretty much the same playing XI, Pune are unlikely to make changes and in actuality, they don’t have to.
RPS’s probable playing XI vs KXIP: 1. Steve Smith (c), 2. Rahul Tripathi, 3. Ajinkya Rahane, 4. Ben Stokes, 5. Manoj Tiwary, 6. MS Dhoni (wk), 7. Daniel Christian, 8. Washington Sundar, 9. Shardul Thakur, 10, Jaydev Unadkat, and 11. Adam Zampa
Rising Pune are unchanged from the last match and the aforementioned playing XI is the one which you will see taking the field.
Kings XI produced their best batting performance of this season in the absence of their best batsman of IPL 2017, Hashim Amla. The decision to promote Wriddhiman Saha to open the batting worked wonders and the entire Kings XI top order came good on Thursday night against Mumbai.
The propensity of the Kings XI bowling attack to hemorrhage runs might be a cause of concern for the team management. Matt Henry has been expensive in the two matches he has played and will be a bowler who gets targetted by Rising Pune if he plays once again. Ishant Sharma is another Kings XI bowler who is liable to concede runs in a heap, a characteristic which will concern any captain.
Though Kings XI will not want to overly change their playing XI, they might make one change. With already three seamers in the side, Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma and Henry, Kings XI might bring back Swapnil Singh, especially with this being an evening match. Meaning, Kings XI’s bowling attack could feature three seamers and three spinners. Other than Swapnil potentially replacing Ishant, I do not foresee any changes.
Kings XI’s probable playing XI vs RPS: 1. Glenn Maxwell (c), 2. Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 3. Martin Guptill, 4. Shaun Marsh, 5. Manan Vohra, 6. Axar Patel, 7. Rahul Tewatia, 8. Mohit Sharma, 9. Sandeep Sharma, 10. Matt Henry, and 11. Ishant Sharma/Swapnil Singh
Actual playing XI for Kings XI: 1. Glenn Maxwell (c), 2. Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 3. Martin Guptill, 4. Shaun Marsh, 5. Eoin Morgan, 6. Axar Patel, 7. Rahul Tewatia, 8. Mohit Sharma, 9. Sandeep Sharma, 10. Swapnil Singh, and 11. Ishant Sharma
Prediction: Match 55
Make no mistake, Pune Supergiant are the better side because of their possessing an equally good batting line-up as Kings XI’s and a bowling attack which has been far more potent. Punjab’s bowling is not reliable and when you do not know what your best bowling attack is, which is why it has seen so many changes over the course of this season, you are in an unenviable situation. The fragility of the bowling also means that the batsmen might have to take on an added responsibility.
As the more balanced side, I believe Pune Supergiant will go through. What do you think?