Ed Hawkins previews the clash from Abu Dhabi on Saturday with Kings in dire need of a win...
"Kings are keen to get Gayle a game with Glenn Maxwell in danger of missing out. Agarwal would likely drop to No 3 so Gayle could open"
Kings XI Punjab v Kolkata Knight Riders
Saturday October 10 11:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
KKR need rhythm
Kings XI suffered their fifth defeat in sixth on Thursday with an insipid display with bat and ball against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Their play-offs hopes are not dead but a priest has been called.
They finally picked Mujeeb Rahman, the Afghan spinner, but then batted him at No 7. Every season an IPL team is lampooned on social media with the gag: If you've got $12 million to spend and you end up batting [insert name] there then you've failed. It's normally Kings. Unfortunately Kings' balance is so poor that even if they had retained Chris Jordan there and Mujeeb had been at No 8 they would have taken heat.
KL Rahul, the top runscorer in the tournament, is also being criticised for ponderous play. His lethargy in a chase of 202 set the tone for everyone else apart from Nic Pooran who blasted 77 from 37.
Possible XI Rahul, Agarwal, P Singh, Pooran, Maxwell, M Singh, Jordan, Mujeeb, Bishnoi, Shami, A Singh
Kolkata defended 167 against Chennai Super Kings in a bizarre game at Abu Dhabi on Wednesday which saw favouritism consistently swing either side.
The Knight Riders looked on for a monster total at 98 for two in the tenth but then fell away with Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell contributing nine runs off 14 balls between them. They began as lazily with the ball and Chennai were bang in charge at 99 for one in the 13. Cue another collapse.
It is difficult whether to credit the KKR bowlers or highlight horrific innings by MS Dhoni (11 from 12) and Kedar Jadav (seven from 12).
Maybe it's more pertinent to note Sunil Narine has been demoted to No 3, which just means KKR's significant hitters (Morgan and Russell) have less crease time.
Probable XI Tripathi, Gill, Narine, Rana, Morgan, Russell, Karthik, Cummins, Nagarkoti, Mavi, Varun.
Last year head-to-heads
KKR 185-3 (Gill 65*, Shami 1-15) chased KP 183-6 (Pooran 48, Warrier 2-31)
KKR 218-4 (Rana 63) defended KP 190-4 (Agarwal 58, Russell 2-21)
Overall KKR 17 KP 8
There have been eight games at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The first-innings scores (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second) read: 167-1/193-1/154-2/191-1/162-1/142-2/195-1/162-2. We are still a couple of games away before we expect to see a downturn in runscoring. There seemed nowt wrong with the surface in the KKR-CSK clash and the twin collapses seemed to be down to bad batting rather than anything stodgy in the surface.
Beware Kings at the death
KKR have won 12 out of 15 chasing against Kings XI so it will be interesting to see whether they buck the tournament trend for batting first if they get the choice.
Otherwise there is no surprise that the Knight Riders rank short favourites for this one at 8/111.76. As discussed in Cricket...Only Bettor this week (see below) there could well be room for a bigger price. Kings, despite low confidence, are adept at early wickets in the powerplay.
But do bear in mind they are awful at the death and we would expect KKR to take them for more than 40 in the last three overs. For that reason, any trade on Kings has to be done with an exit strategy before the 17th over.
Chris Gayle is not the player of old but with a 29% win rate in IPL in the last two years he is no 4/1 (Sportsbook) shot for top Kings bat. They are keen to get him a game with Glenn Maxwell in danger of missing out. Agarwal would likely drop to No 3 so Gayle could open.
Your best guide to this week's IPL on Cricket...Only Bettor
Ed Hawkins IPL P-L
+6.7 (17.5pts staked)