Laggards face off in high-stake battle

Laggards face off in high-stake battle

For Kings XI, who have suffered five losses from eight games including four in a row, Friday night’s 85-run crushing defeat at the hands of Royal Challengers Bangalore in Bangalore would be weighing heavily on their minds.

However, they still have six games left and have slim hopes of making it to the play-off stage while Pune’s campaign is all but over after having suffered seven losses from nine outings.

In Yuvraj Singh’s Pune, all eyes would be on former India captain Sourav Ganguly, who recently replaced injured Ashish Nehra in the side. The experienced left-hander, who might play on Sunday, is expected to boost the sagging morale of the team.

Pune had a rollicking start to their campaign and Yuvraj led the new franchise to an emphatic win against his erstwhile team Kings XI, but the seven losses on the trot after two wins have been demoralising.

After being cold-shouldered by Kolkata Knight Riders, the 38-year-old Ganguly has a point to prove and going by the number of hours he has been putting in here in the nets during the past couple of days, he should be seen in action on the morrow.

It is a crucial game for the Adam Gilchrist-led KXIP as they are languishing in ninth place with just six points and find themselves in a must-win situation to keep their thin hopes alive for a place in the qualifiers.

Gilchrist, rising star Paul Valthaty and Shaun Marsh have earlier displayed in the tournament their capability to tear apart any bowling side on their day, but it has also been the bane for the Punjab side as the batting has been heavily depending on these three.

Kings XI, who managed to reach the semifinals in the opening edition of the IPL, have lost steam after making an impressive start to the tournament.

Since winning three games on the trot, the side has lost five. Punjab’s batting has simply not been up to the mark despite Mumbaikar Valthaty’s early heroics and Gilchrist’s once-in-a-while pyrotechnics.