After their blistering start to their respective 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaigns, it looked like both Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders were certainties to finish among the four play-off places.
However, with the business-end of the tournament now upon us, things have gone sour for both franchises with their IPL 2019 play-off hopes now riding on a prayer ahead of their showdown in Mohali on Friday.
Both the teams will have their eyes on the result of Thursday’s Mumbai Indians v Sunrisers clash where they will desperately be hopping for a victory for the former. A Sunrisers win on Thursday will be the least-favourable outcome for both sides and will only make their task a tad more improbable.
PERFORM OR PERISH FOR BOTH SIDES
With both teams currently tied on 10 points, there are plenty of permutations and combinations that could see them yet book a place in the top-four. However, one thing is clear.
A defeat for either side on Friday will very well be the end of their play-off ambitions given their vastly inferior net run-rates compared to both Mumbai and SRH.
Among KXIP and KKR, it is the latter which looks better placed to advance to the play-offs given their net-run rate is still positive compared to the former’s which is negative. Even then, Ravi Ashwin and his Kings XI side will feel more confident given that they play both their remaining encounters on their home ground at Mohali.
So far in five IPL 2019 outings at Mohali, Kings XI have managed to win four with their sole defeat coming against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
GAYLE POWER V RUSSELL POWER
Friday’s crunch clash will see two big-hitting West Indies stalwarts go head-to-head with Chris Gayle and Andre Russell lining up on opposite sides.
Together, the two players have smashed 82 sixes between themselves in the IPL 2019 edition with Russell alone accounting for 50 of them.
While Gayle has so far amassed 448 runs for KXIP this season at an average of nearly 45, Russell has collected 486 runs at an average of nearly 70. Both the batsmen have been scoring those runs at a frightening clip with Gayle’s strike-rate hovering around the 161-mark while Russell has been smashing them at a rate of over 207.
The sixes will be expected to flow in Mohali when these two take the field and how the ‘Universe Boss’ and ‘Dre Russ’ fare on the day might very well decide the final outcome of the clash.
Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran, David Miller, Simran Singh (wk), Ravi Ashwin (c), Murugan Ashwin, Ankit Rajpoot, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Mohammed Shami.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Shubman Gill, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (c and wk), Sunil Narine, Rinku Singh, Piyush Chawla, Harry Gurney, Sandeep Warrier.
A win for Mumbai will make them the third team after Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals to confirm their berth in the play-off clashes.
For the Sunrisers, a win will not guarantee a play-off qualification just yet but it will put them in a great position to finish in the top-four.
Will Mumbai secure their play-off qualification or will SRH come out on top despite the absence of David Warner? Find out by following the ball-by-ball updates below from the Wankhede stadium.
The battle between the top two teams in IPL 2019 turned out to be a one-aided affair that was once again decided by the slow pitch at Chepauk as Chennai Super Kings defeated Delhi Capitals by 80 runs on Wednesday.
The Super Kings, bolstered by the return of skipper MS Dhoni who was still showing signs of illness, posted an above par 179-4 which proved more than enough as Delhi could only muster 99, with spinners Imran Tahir (4-12) and Ravindra Jadeja (3-9) breaking the visitors’ Delhi’s back.
Skipper Dhoni smashed an unbeaten 44 off just 22 balls while Suresh Raina top scored with 59, which formed the bulk of CSK’s total. Delhi’s batting stood no chance against a rampant Chennai spin attack on a raging turner and they folded for 99 in 16.2 overs.
Chennai have now all but secured their spot in the Qualifier 1 after rising to the top of the table with their ninth win from 13 games.
No Rabada means runs
Delhi were missing the services of the best bowler of the tournament – pacer Kagiso Rabada out with a bad back. That meant Chennai top order could take their time and cash in later. Even when opener Shane Watson fell for a nine-ball duck to spinner Jagadeesha Suchith, Chennai’s seasoned campaigners Faf du Plessis (39) and Raina could afford to be play the waiting game and they took the score to 87 by the 14th over.
Raina hit two fours and a six off successive balls before falling to Suchith with five overs to go. It was time for Dhoni to flex his muscles.
The final seven balls of the innings saw vintage MSD as he first sent a beamer from Chris Morris for a six before laying into left-arm quick Trent Boult in the final over. A short arm jab down the ground for a four followed by successive hits over the midwicket fence saw Dhoni end with four fours and three sixes. Jadeja also chipped in with 22 off 10 balls.
Spin does Delhi in
Dhoni and the stumpings. A spinner's love story.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) May 1, 2019
The second innings was always going to be difficult with seasoned spinners Harbhajan Singh, Tahir and Jadeja taking turns to tie Delhi batsmen down.
From the moment Harbhajan bowled Shikhar Dhawan who attempted to slog sweep the spinner, it became clear the match was going to go just one way. Tahir and Jadeja ran through the middle order as not a single batsman from four down managed to reach double figures. Delhi were forced to resort to front foot defences with the ball spinning sharply away.
Two moments in the game underlined the class of Dhoni the keeper. Morris and captain Shreyas Iyer prodded at Jadeja and both saw Dhoni pull off lightning quick stumpings by the smallest of margins. It showed once again that 37, Dhoni is still by far the best gloveman in India.