IPL 2018 Preview: Andre Russell's fitness and other teams news as Kolkata Knight Riders take on Kings XI Punjab

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Russell has not looked fully fit this IPL. Image: BCCI.

Kolkata Knight Riders would do well to forget their last match against Mumbai Indians. First conceding 210-6 against the defending champions, the Knight Riders were shot out for 108 to slump to a 102-run defeat in one of the most one-sided encounters seen in the tournament.

But at least the only way from there is up. Thoroughly outplayed in every department, the Knight Riders need to get their act together after falling to their second straight defeat as they prepare for their match against Kings XI Punjab in the IPL on Saturday.

The biggest concern for them right now will be the fitness of Andre Russell. The West Indies all-rounder has been battling a hamstring injury for a while and has been struggling to complete his bowling action efficiently. In the match against Mumbai, Russell struggled to move while batting and bowling and Kolkata must decide if an unfit star player is worth the risk.

Kings XI Punjab batsman KL Rahul has been in superb form this IPL season. The opening batsman seems to be on a mission, scoring 471 runs from 10 innings at an average of almost 59 and a strike rate of 156. The only problem is he is not getting much support from other batsmen, apart from Chris Gayle.

Captain Ravi Ashwin will do well to learn from the mistakes committed in the last game against Rajasthan Royals while chasing 159.

There, Ashwin promoted himself to No3 ahead of recognised batsmen like Karun Nair and Manoj Tiwary, a move that failed. Rahul fought a lone battle, finishing unbeaten on 95 as Punjab lost by 15 runs with only one other batsman reaching double figures.

Players in focus

Punjab opener Gayle has registered two single-digit scores in his last two innings. After starting off with two fifties and a century, Gayle seems to be slowing down. Now is the time for the southpaw to take the initiative and reduce the pressure on Rahul.

Knight Riders’ foreign pace attack is a growing concern with Tom Curran failing to fire and Russell looking unable to finish his quota of four overs. It means young Indian pacer Prasidh Krishna or Shivam Mavi, whoever is selected, will have to take a greater portion of the load.

Likely line-ups

Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul (wk), Chris Gayle, Yuvraj Singh, Karun Nair, Manoj Tiwary, Ravi Ashwin (c),Axar Patel, Marcus Stoinis, Ankit Rajpoot, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Andrew Tye

Kolkata Knight Riders: Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Rinku Singh, Robin Uthappa, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (c & wk), Nitish Rana, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Shivam Mavi, Tom Curran

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IPL 2018: Team news as Rajasthan Royals get ready to don pink jerseys in clash with Chennai Super Kings

Sudhir Gupta 11/05/2018
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Royals will turn out in pink jerseys for the clash. Image - RR/Twitter.

Rajasthan Royals players will don a special pink jersey instead of their customary blue in their Friday’s IPL clash against Chennai Super Kings.

The pink jersey will be worn by the players to raise awareness about cancer screening. To put the spotlight ion the issue, the Royals players also participated in a camp along with a reputed hospital on Thursday.

“Looking forward to wearing this new outfit tomorrow night and helping to raise awareness about the availability of cancer screening in Rajasthan, which can save many lives. I hope we raise a lot of money for a brilliant cause and another win would top it off. Jaipur was even lit up pink last night for this great cause,” Rajasthan all-rounder Ben Stokes wrote on Instagram.

As far as team news for both sides go, Chennai Super Kings received a shot in the arm with pacer Deepak Chahar regaining fitness after injuring his hamstring. With Chahar back in action, Shardul Thakur could make way for the pacer.

The pitch at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium aided spinners in the last match where Royals trumped Kings XI Punjab by 15 runs.

Hence, spin is likely to be key once again with K Gowtham, Ish Sodhi, Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja likely to be in the spotlight. Ajinkya Rahane could be tempted to bring back Shreyas Gopal into the playing XI in place of Mahipal Lomror who was disappointing with both bat and ball in the last match.

LIKELY LINE-UPS

Rajasthan Royals: Ajinkya Rahane (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Rahul Tripathi, Stuart Binny, K Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal, Ish Sodhi, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat

Chennai Super Kings: Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (c, wk), Dhruv Shorey, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, David Willey, Harbhajan Singh, Lungi Ngidi, Deepak Chahar

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IPL 2018: Altercation between Kings XI Punjab owner Preity Zinta and mentor Virender Sehwag, according to report

Sudhir Gupta 11/05/2018
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Kings XI owner Zinta (l) and Sehwag. Image: BCCI.

All’s not well in the Kings XI Punjab camp with report of an altercation between team owner Preity Zinta and mentor Virender Sehwag.

According to the Mumbai Mirror, Zinta had a heated argument with Sehwag following their last game against Rajasthan Royals which the team lost by 15 runs.

In that game, captain Ravi Ashwin batted at No3 ahead of more recognised batsmen.That move didn’t work as Punjab slumped to their third defeat in four games.

The report states Zinta questioned Sehwag’s tactics, which hasn’t pleased the former India batsman. Apparently, Sehwag had earlier spoken to the team’s other owners to rein in Zinta.

Kings XI are third in the points table but recent results have taken the sheen away from a fine start to the IPL 2018 campaign.

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