The IPL arrives in Indore
Friday, May 13, Indore
Start time 2000 (14.30 GMT)
We are into that part of the season where calculators are whipped out, heads are scratched, spread-sheets are filled and scenarios are chalked out. The good news for Kochi Tuskers Kerala is that they can still make the play-offs. The good news for Kings XI Punjab is that if they beat Kochi on Friday, they will be on par with them on the points table. The bad news for both is that another slip-up could end their faltering campaigns. It's all to play for as the IPL heads to its newest destination, the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore.
It will be a 'home' game for Kochi, which is tough to justify given that Indore, located in central India, is around 800km closer to Mohali than it is to Kochi. Not that Kochi will mind the migration, given that they have won more games away than at home this season. Mahela Jayawardene will hope for a pitch with pace and carry on it - his seam-heavy attack thrives in zippy conditions, while his batsmen have been bowled out three times on sluggish tracks.
Interestingly, Kochi and Punjab are the only sides that have managed to defeat both Chennai and Mumbai - finalists of IPL 2010, and two of the form teams so far this year. Whichever side derives more self-belief and momentum from those performances will run out winners on Friday.
Form guide (most recent first)
Punjab: WLLLL (ninth in points table)
Kochi: LWWLL (sixth in points table)
In five games, David Hussey's contribution to Punjab's cause has been 20 runs and one wicket. David Miller and Ryan McLaren will feel hard done if they continue to warm the bench while Hussey plays.
Ramesh Powar has leaked 9.33 runs per over for his two wickets. Sreesanth has every right to be indignant if Powar keeps him out again.
Predict the playing XIs for this match. Play ESPNcricinfo Team Selector.
In the spotlight
In the first week of IPL 2011, Paul Valthaty was clubbing everything off the front foot, while also producing wickets with his split-finger slower balls. Since then, he has been circumspect at the top of the order, and shown a reluctance to swing through the leg side. How he goes in the last four games will decide whether he is a one-week wonder or a genuine talent.
Parthiv Patel's baby face undermines his determination, and his stature offers few clues of his impeccable sense of timing. He specialises in cuts and chops when offered width, and can unleash a fierce little slog-sweep. Parthiv's pluck at one-drop, sandwiched between Brendon McCullum's brutality at the top, and Mahela Jayawardene's finesse at No. 4, could prove crucial to Kochi's fortunes.
- He may have a reputation for waywardness, but Sreesanth (6.14 runs per over) has easily been Kochi's most economical bowler this season
- Lasith Malinga (59 wickets) has ended RP Singh's (58) perch at the top of the IPL wicket-takers list. RP will want to wrest back the honour during his spell against Punjab
"I am not making an excuse but in our last few games we have played on some mediocre wickets and then you have to scrap for runs. It is a challenge and we need to adapt to that. On good tracks we have done well against strong teams be it Delhi or Kolkata."
Will the Indore wicket bring a smile to Mahela Jayawardene's face?
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo