New Delhi: In Saturday's first clash of the IPL, buoyant KXIP will play in-form hosts KKR. Both teams have won their last league games convincingly and would like to continue winning. Who could forget the whirlwind ton of Chris Gayle, his 6th in the IPL, which took KXIP to a daunting total. The Punjab bowlers then showed up and strangled SRH to collect their third win. Simiarly, KKR proved too good for RR the other day as both bowling and batting performed their roles well to brush aside any challenge to breach Rajasthan's Jaipur fortress. In headlines were Nitish Rana and the wrist spinners, who spun a web around the RR batters to restrict them to an under-par total.
These are the three players to watch out for:
Chris Gayle: Virender Sehwag said that if he wins Punjab couple of games in season, the money spent on him in the auctions will be worth. But Gayle, according to Sehwag has already done his job. Two matches, two wins. Now what? The reality is and what Punjab must be praying is that Gayle continues to demolish bowling the way he is doing. Because if he provides them a start, they have firepower in the line-up to capitalise on the start.
Nitish Rana: The Delhi lad has strengthened the KKR middle-order. More importantly, he has taken up the role really well. Rana has understood what is expected of him and has red the situation well to decide in what gear should he bat in to finish games. Additionally, his part-time spin is proving golden for Dinesh Karthik as he provides crucial breakthroughs.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman: The Afghan spinner has a mystery to his art. Anybody who doesn't pick him from the wrist, is certainly a contender. The way he mixes up his pace and variations has helped KXIP work their plans around him. The other day, he castled Virat Kohli with a brilliant googly. In the last game, he bowled economically. Against KKR, he has a better chance to pick wickets as the top order likes to take on the bowling and he might have a chance.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (c and WK), 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 and Tom Curran.
Kings XI Punjab: Ravichandran Ashwin (captain), KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Aaron Finch, Yuvraj Singh, Karun Nair, David Miller, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, AJ Tye, Mohit Sharma and Mujeeb ur Rahman.