Ed Hawkins says the Mohali match-up should see both sides trade as short-priced favourite in-play on the Betfair Exchange...
"In the powerplay overs, no team has been more expensive than Kings so if you do take the [2.1] and KKR bat first, expect things to get pretty toppy pretty quickly"
Kings XI Punjab v Kolkata Knight Riders
Friday 3 May, 15:30
TV: live on BT Sport
Deja vu for Kings
Kings XI have got to win their last two matches to stand any hope of making the play-offs. And even then net run rate is likely to go against them. They're in the black in that regard.
Their 2019 campaign is eerily, dumbfoundedly, similar to 2018. They went off like a rocket only to crash to earth. After five wins in the first six, they have won one in six. Such carelessness is barely believable.
Still, they're at home for this one. And that counts for a lot. They have won four from five in their own backyard, although the eight-wicket loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore will go down as one of the least impressive efforts.
They have had problems recognising the need for a sixth bowling option, while they have also been unsure of their best combination with the ball. AJ Tye, Mujeeb ur Rahmann and Hardus Viljoen have been in and out. Tye's drop in form was unforeseeable. Last year's top tournament wicket-taker has been a major disappointment.
KL Rahul, just like last year, has had to carry the batting on his own. David Miller's go-slows have cost them and last time out Ravi Ashwin was batting at No 6. All a bit of a mess, really. But Nic Pooran has blazed away effectively.
Russell versus the rest
Kolkata are, there is no doubt about it, a one-man team. Take away Andre Russell's breathtaking performances and they would be rock-bottom.
It's worth labouring the point. Had Russell 'merely' been excellent, Kolkata would be dead and buried by now. But because he has been otherworldly - he is the third highest runscorer in the tournament with a gobsmacking strike rate of 206 - they are just about clinging on to qualification hopes.
There can be no doubt that in the short history of franchise cricket Russell's all-round performance has been the greatest. He also has ten wickets to his name. Imagine how good he would be in a single-wicket competition.
Otherwise KKR have, as expected, really struggled to keep things tight in the field. Pre-season injuries to their bowling unit hit them hard. They should have been able to rely on the spin trio of Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav but they have failed to tie down teams. Kuldeep was so bad he was axed.
Deja vu for Kings
Three of the four this term at the IS Bindra Stadium have been won by the chaser as teams have struggled to work out what a good score is. In truth, it has looked a belter at times yet first-dig scores of 182-173-150-176 suggest otherwise. That 182 was the one score which was not chased so we could assume that should be a minimum. Kings seem happier chasing and they may well back themselves to get up to 190 against a KKR attack which is loose in the field.
Great trade game
Kings XI are the outsiders here at [2.10] against Russell, sorry, KKR, who get a [1.92] quote. We're not surprised that the market is struggling to split the pair definitively.
Both teams have significant issues. With two games to go we're not even sure if Kings know what their best XI is and, as we said, they have only two reliable hitters in Rahul and Pooran. Actually, maybe that's a bit unfair on Mayank Agarwal, who has been decent. Chris Gayle is very up and down.
In the powerplay overs, no team has been more expensive than Kings so if you do take the [2.1] and KKR bat first, expect things to get pretty toppy pretty quickly. KKR also score more quickly than any other team in the death overs (the Russell factor) so, again, you could well be behind the rate at the break.
Kings, though, do have one of the most destructive powerplay hitters in Gayle if he can get going, although they tend to fizzle out towards the end of an innings. But they would expect to go hell for leather against a vulnerable attack. Over 43.5 runs in the first five at 5/6 with Sportsbook could be a wager therefore.
In short this looks a cracking trading game and we expect the side batting first to be short jollies at the break and then come under the pump in the field.
Considering this is the Russell show it's worth pointing out his prices with Sportsbook. Dre Russ is 7/2 for top KKR bat and 5/1 for man of the match. It's hard to put folks off him because he's playing at a different level to everyone else. For the former market, though, Chris Lynn might appeal. He looked in terrific touch last time out in the win against Mumbai Indians as KKR amassed 232. He is 3/1. For Kings, Rahul is 23/10 and he should be 2/1. Pooran appeals at 5s.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l
Back-to-lay side Kings batting first from [2.1] to [1.50]