IPL 2019: Perform or perish for KXIP and KKR as they search for play-off qualification lifeline

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Andre Russell has been sensational for KKR. Image - @IPL/Twitter.

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.

LIKELY XIs

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.

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