Sluggish Punjab need big victory

ON A ROLL: Kings XI Punjab will hope K L Rahul to come good again in their crucial tie against Chennai Super Kings. PTI

Kings XI Punjab will face the uphill task of not only pulling the rug from under the feet of formidable Chennai Super Kings but also boosting their net run rate in the last IPL round-robin match to salvage any hopes of sneaking into the play-offs.

Punjab had started the season with a string of wins before going off the boil. Currently placed at the seventh position with 12 points, Kings XI still have a slender chance of making it to the play-offs.

Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore are also at 12 points with one match to go but Punjab will have the advantage of knowing exactly what they need to do to make a last-ditch effort.

It has been a story of individual brilliance for Punjab who have failed to click as a team. Only KL Rahul (652 runs) has been scoring runs in a heap but none of the other batsmen have played to their potential on a consistent basis.

Kings XI had come agonisingly close in securing a win against Mumbai Indians in their last outing before a last-minute slip saw the defending champions seal the contest by three runs in the last over.

Chris Gayle played some superb knocks early in the tournament but he has looked inconsistent. Among others, Aaron Finch, Karun Nair, Marcus Stonis, Mayank Agarwal and Yuvraj Singh -- all have failed to score runs when it mattered.

Among bowlers, only Andrew Tye (24 wickets) has delivered but the injury to rookie Afghan leggie Mujeeb Ur Rahman has hurt Punjab.

Chennai Super Kings, on the other hand, have already qualified for the play-offs but they would be eager for a top-two finish.

Handed a reality check by an out-of-reckoning Delhi Daredevils Saturday night, Chennai will be looking to plug the gaps when they take on Punjab.

The Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai are sitting in second spot with 16 points and a victory would pilot CSK into the top two and a place in Qualifier 1 against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Mumbai on May 22.

For Chennai, Ambati Rayadu (585 runs) has been brilliant throughout the season as he has delivered wherever he was asked to bat -- as an opener or at number 4.

He and experienced Australian campaigner Shane Watson (438 runs) will have to give the Southern outfit a solid start.

The tournament has seen some vintage innings from Dhoni (430 runs), who has reminded his critics that he has not past his prime.

The return of pacer Deepak Chahar from injury has bolstered CSK's bowling attack that will also depend on Shardul Thakur and the experienced spin duo of Harbhajan Singh and Jadeja to stop the in-form opening combination of Rahul and Gayle.

 

 

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Sluggish Punjab need big victory

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