New Delhi: Glenn Maxwell's Kings XI Punjab will be hoping to complete a hat-trick of wins when they tarvel east to the City of Joy to face Kolkata Knight Riders on Thursday.
For the home team, they indeed started with a bang when they thumped the Lions of Gujarat to assign themselves a 10-wicket victory in their opener. The Knights started their 2017 campaign against the Lions in the absence of their star all-rounder Andre Russell.
But with a big win over the Lions, KKR once again proved their title credentials at the very outset of the tournament.
And despite mediocore bowling performance from their bowlers, openers Chris Lynn and Gautam Gambhir, produced batting pyrotechnics to chase down a possible match-winning total of 184, set by the Lions, in just 14.5 overs.
Words of their prowess spread as the Knights geared up to face Mumbai Indians in their second match at Wankhede stadium. But with a powerful performance from the local players, not forgetting the Pandya brothers, Mumbai Indians roared back to victory from out of nowhere.
Hosting their first home match, Kolkata will hope to bounce back to winning ways.
However, the pitch at Eden has indeed changed a lot. Turning more of a seamer-friendly pitch, Gambhir will be looking to use all three pacers and with the return of Umesh Yadav back to the squad, he will be hoping for those crucial early wickets.
For them, bowling has been a huge concern, with the spinners Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav not sounding at their best, nor have the pacers produced a likely result. But one good news is the availability of Bangladeshi all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who is likely to fill in for injured Chris Lynn. He is a celebrated all-rounder, capable of winning matches, single-handedly.
For the kings of Punjab, they indeed are looking strong after registering victories in their very first two matches. They have delivered an astounding, all-round performance following two dismal seasons off them.
Under the newly assigned captain Glenn Maxwell, the team looks more balanced than ever with the skipper himself playing two important knocks to finish off things in style in the previous matches.
However, both their games were played at home. This would be Punjab's first test in an away condition encounter.
As for the bowlers, they too have been at their best. Restricting Royal Challengers Bangalore to mere 150 despite Mr 360, AB de Villiers at crease was rather commendable. At a seamer-friendly condition, the Kings might be going for their tall-pacer Ishant Sharma in place of Mohit to boost their side.
Here is a look at possible playing XIs for the two teams...
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (c), Robin Uthappa (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Umesh Yadav, Chris Woakes, Trent Boult, Kuldeep Yadav.
Kings XI Punjab: Hasim Amal, Manan Vohra, Glenn Maxwell (c), David Miller, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Axar Patel, Marcus Stoinis, Varun Aaron, T Natarajan, Ishant Sharma, Sandeep Sharma.