IPL 2018: Struggling KKR meet KXIP in must-win game

Deflated after a crushing defeat against Mumbai in the previous encounter, Kolkata will be aiming to pick up the pieces when they face Punjab in an IPL encounter on Saturday.

IPL 2018: Struggling KKR meet KXIP in must-win game
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Indore: Deflated after a crushing defeat against Mumbai in the previous encounter, Kolkata will be aiming to pick up the pieces when they face Punjab in an IPL encounter on Saturday.

It is not easy to recover quickly if the margin of defeat is as huge as 102 runs but KKR do not have the luxury of slipping further against a team that has one of the most formidable batting line-ups in this edition of the league.

With 10 points from 11 games, Saturday's game is a must-win encounter for Dinesh Karthik and his men if they want to keep their play-off chances alive.

For Punjab, the game against Rajasthan turned out to be a proverbial banana peel as they lost by 15 runs chasing a modest target of 159.

The defeat led to unverified reports of rift between franchise co-owner Preity Zinta and Director of Cricket Virender Sehwag, something that the franchise denied in an official statement.

With 12 points from 10 games, KXIP are in a tricky situation. A win will take them closer to play-offs but a defeat will mean that Mumbai will be breathing down their neck.

For KXIP, KL Rahul with 471 runs (from 10 games) have had a fabulous season so far while Chris Gayle (311 from 7 games) has also been in imperious form in some of the matches. However the trouble has been a lack of contribution from other batsmen in the team.

Karun Nair (243 runs in 10 games) has had a decent run so far but biggest disappointment has been Mayank Agarwal (118 runs in 9 matches). Agarwal came into the IPL after enjoying his best domestic season, having plundered runs across all three formats.

However, it has not translated into significant contribution.

Veteran Yuvraj Singh has been benched by the team management after scoring only 64 runs in 7 games and his replacement Manoj Tiwary has not yet set the stage on fire.

KKR, on the other hand, has suffered due to some bizarre team selection with clear indication that the management didn't get it right while zeroing in on domestic talent.

Rinku Singh has been given four chances and the UP batsman has looked clearly out of place in the big league.

He is far from a finished product and will need time to measure up. Nitish Rana's (240 runs) form has tapered off as his poor technique against short ball has been exposed thoroughly.

Among bowlers, KKR has suffered as spinners Piyush Chawla (11 wickets) and Kuldeep Yadav (8 wickets) have been very costly with an economy rate close to 9 runs.

KKR will hope that both Shubman Gill and Shivam Mavi, who are important in their scheme of things, get fit for the game.

The other problem has been inconsistent form of senior players. Chris Lynn (298 from 11 games) and Robin Uthappa (273 from 11 games) have been decent but not spectacular on most days.

Squads

Kolkata: Dinesh Karthik (C), Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi, Mitchell Johnson, Shubman Gill, R. Vinay Kumar, Rinku Singh, Cameron Delport, Javon Searless, Apoorv Wankhade, Ishank Jaggi, Tom Curran.

Punjab: Ravichandran Ashwin (captain), Chris Gayle, Aaron Finch, KL Rahul, Karun Nair, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Barinder Sran, David Miller, Andrew Tye, Ankit Rajpoot, Axar Patel, Akshdeep Nath, Mayank Agarwal, Manoj Tiwary, Yuvraj Singh, Marcus Stoinis, Mayank Dagar. 

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