Kings XI Punjab seek upward push in crucial tie against SRH

Sport can be a capricious business, where the past doesn't matter and only performing on the day counts. You have to fight anxiety, overcome nerves and explore solutions. One wrong move could lead to tears of joy or despair. Kings XI Punjab's cricketers have certainly experienced that, having gone through a gamut of emotions in this year's Indian Premier League.

Kings XI Punjab seek upward push in crucial tie against SRH

There was a dawn of hope when they won their first two games of the tournament. However, it soon turned into a bumpy ride and even a sense of hopelessness might have crept in as they flailed their way to four consecutive losses. It was only in their last match against Gujarat Lions that KXIP were able to string together a fine all-round show to arrest the slide and emerge victorious by 26 runs.

KXIP's inconsistency is a facsimile of the way they have played in previous years. The Punjab franchise, though, would be buoyed by their clinical show against GL as they eye momentum when they take on Sunrisers Hyderabad at Mohali on Friday (April 28). It won't be easy as in reality, both their batting and bowling departments have fired only in fits and starts.

Some of KXIP's problems stem from the lack of variety and menace in the pace battery. The attack comprising Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Ishant Sharma and Varun Aaron don't exactly mix up their pace and lengths. On a positive note, T Natarajan has showed glimpses of his ability to bowl tidily in the death overs. In KXIP's last game against GL, he illustrated his worth by bowling wide yorkers and slower ones.

Even on the batting front, KXIP need to show consistency. Hashim Amla's velvet-polished unbeaten 104 against Mumbai Indians has been the highlight of KXIP's batting efforts. Amla's batting has stayed firm, evidenced by the fact that he has aggregated 299 runs at an average of 59.80 so far. Manan Vohra crunched a 50-ball 95 against SRH and Glenn Maxwell has had a few bright sparks with the bat. However, rest of the batsmen have compiled a slew of encouraging but mostly insignificant knocks.

SRH, their opponents, are sitting pretty at third on the table with nine points from eight matches. However, they seem to have lost a bit of steam after they slipped to a nail-biting defeat against Rising Pune Supergiant and the game against Royal Challengers Bangalore was abandoned due to incessant rain.

David Warner has again exuded quality from the outset, accruing 282 runs, while Moises Henriques (193) has marshalled the middle-order with his pyrotechnics. Warner's leadership has also proved to be the heartbeat of the side. He is unafraid to take risks, proud competitor, and a ruthless captain. Rest of the batting line-up too has been functioning well. Shikhar Dhawan (235) has been among the runs, while Kane Williamson played with authority to crack an enterprising 89 against Delhi Daredevils.

SRH also have a varied assortment of bowlers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has made vital incursions for the team and is the holder of the Purple cap with 16 wickets, while Rashid Khan has befuddled the opposition ranks with his well disguised googlies. SRH's area of concern is barring the able duo, they have struggled to play a settled bowling combination.

History and Head-to-head:

KXIP have a forgettable record against SRH, having lost seven of the nine matches they have played against the Hyderabad-based franchise. Incidentally, SRH usurped KXIP at their home turf on April 17, but the Hyderabad franchise hasn't won a single game away from home during this season.

When: Kings XI Punjab vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, April 28, 20:00 IST

Where: Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, Mohali

What to expect: When the inaugural international match was played at the Mohali stadium between India and South Africa in 1993, the track offered pace and bounce for the fast bowlers. The pitch continued to provide assistance for the pacers through the course of 1990s. However, in the recent past, it has slowed down. It is believed that they used to export soil from a village in Ludhiana in Punjab. The soil consisting clay, silt, coarse sand and fine sand tended to assist the groundsmen to prepare tracks with even bounce. However, for the last few years, the villagers have reportedly stopped providing the groundsmen the grass as it is affecting their fields.

In the last four IPL matches played at the ground, only KXIP in their game against Mumbai Indians in 2016 weren't able to amass a total in excess of 170. So we could see another high-scoring encounter. The weather looks promising and rain isn't expected to play spoilsport.

Team News:

Kings XI Punjab: KXIP haven't fielded the same side in any of the seven matches so far. It points to a rather unsettled set-up. However, as they won their last game against GL, the hosts might just be tempted to field the same playing XI. KXIP's coaching staff would be buoyed by the fact that Axar Patel and KC Cariappa seem to have forged a potent spin combination, evidenced by the four wickets the pair shared in the match against GL.

Meanwhile, Darren Sammy, the West Indian all-rounder, joined the franchise at Mohali on Wednesday (April 27). The 33-year old was bought for INR. 30 Lakh during the auctions held in February 2017 but wasn't with the team until now. He could still replace Marcus Stoinis in the side. The Australian allrounder has accumulated just to 17 runs, and has taken only two wickets at an average of 55.

Probable XI: Hashim Amla, Manan Vohra, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell (c), Marcus Stoinis/Darren Sammy, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Axar Patel, Mohit Sharma, KC Cariappa, T Natarajan, Sandeep Sharma

Sunrisers Hyderabad: Yuvraj Singh, who missed the game against RPS due to illness, is set to make a return to the playing XI. It could result in SRH leaving out Williamson, with Ben Cutting and Mohammad Nabi fighting out for the all-rounder's slot. Ashish Nehra has been laid low by neck spasms and hasn't played for the franchise since the game against Kolkata Knight Riders on April 15. For a crucial match, there is a possibility of him returning back to the set-up.

Mustafizur Rahman is also available for selection. The Bangladesh pacer is set to leave for a preparatory camp for the tri-series to be held in Ireland next month on May 4.

Probable XI: David Warner (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Moises Henriques, Yuvraj Singh, Ben Cutting/Mohammad Nabi, Deepak Hooda, Naman Ojha (wk), Bipul Sharma, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashish Nehra.

What they said:

"Out of the remaining seven matches we will have to win 4-5, only then can we qualify for the playoffs. What is more important than the win is the process to achieve that, which is playing good cricket in all departments. In the last match, we showed that," Virender Sehwag, KXIP's Head of cricket of operations.

Did you know?

- SRH has won all their three matches in Mohali against KXIP.

- David Warner has scored 164 runs at a strike rate of 143.84 in home games while his strike rate in away games has been only 113.46.

- SRH has lost the fewest wickets in the Powerplay overs - four - but they have scored only at 7.38.

- David Warner's last six innings against KXIP reads - 44, 58, 81, 59, 52 and 70*.

Note: All the content of this article taken from cricbuzz