Mohali: As the scramble for the top four positions has set off, Kings XI Punjab have not much to worry even as they would look to consolidate their position at the top while a victory for Rajasthan Royals is a must when the two teams clash, here on Friday.
Punjab, who lost to Mumbai Indians here last night, are currently on top of the table with 18 points from 12 outings. Rajasthan have 14 points from 12 matches same as Kolkata Knight Riders but they are placed third due to slightly better Net Run-Rate.
The Royals, champions of the inaugural edition, have been performing as per the expectations with some little-known players contributing massively to their success.
However, they are coming into this match after a 25-run loss against Mumbai Indians, paying the price for resting key players such as Steven Smith and Ajinkya Rahane.
Barring opener Karun Nair`s 48 and Brad Hodge`s 40 and James Faulkner`s 31 down the order, none of their other top-half batsmen contributed significantly as Mumbai won by 25 runs after setting a target of 179 for the Royals.
Smith and Rahane are likely to make a comeback and need to fire against Punjab, who are on a roll despite suffering defeat at the hands of Mumbai Indians here yesterday.
Setting a reasonable target of 157, KXIP lost to Mumbai Indians, with their opening batsman Lendl Simmons leading his side to victory with an unbeaten ton.
After disappointing local fans, before whom the Kings XI made their first appearance of this season, the George Bailey side will look to do better in the next two home games.
The collapse of their middle order against Mumbai would be a concern and the team will look to sort that out. The good thing for the local outfit this season has been the ability of a range of their players to come up and perform unlike in the past when they banked heavily on a couple of players.
Local fans would hope for another big knock from Glenn Maxwell, who has enthralled the people with his fearless big-hitting batting.
Yesterday, the Punjab fans carried placards, showing Maxwell in a turban with name of `Glennpreet Singh Maxwell` written underneath. They were left disappointed as the star performer fell cheaply, making just two runs.
The solid Punjab batting order has successfully chased down 200-plus scores twice so far and are easily the strongest batting side along with Chennai Super Kings.
But for that they need Maxwell and David Miller to fire again even as young Manan Vohra has proved his mettle in the batting. Virender Sehwag has not played many a big knocks but has provided good starts with Vohra. Skipper George Bailey has provided depth down the order.
Their young bowlers Akshar Patel and Sandeep Sharma have also shown maturity in pressure situations and they just need to continue doing the good work.
Kings XI Punjab: George Bailey (c), Virender Sehwag, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, Akshar Patel, Thisara Perera, Cheteshwar Pujara, Wriddhiman Saha, Manan Vohra, Anureet Singh, Parvinder Awana, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Rishi Dhawan, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Beuran Hendricks, Mitchell Johnson, Karanveer Singh, Murali Kartik, Mandeep Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Shivam Sharma, Shardul Thakur.
Rajasthan Royals: Shane Watson (c), Ajinkya Rahane, James Faulkner, Stuart Binny, Sanju Samson, Brad Hodge, Steven Smith, Abhishek Nayar, Ben Cutting, Kane Richardson, Tim Southee, Unmukt Chand, Ankush Bains, Vikramjeet Malik, Rahul Tewatia, Ankit Sharma, Amit Mishra, Deepak Hooda, Rajat Bhatia, Kevon Cooper, Iqbal Abdulla, Dhawal Kulkarni, Pravin Tambe, Karun Nair, Dishant Yagnik.