Kings XI Punjab v Deccan Chargers, IPL 2011, Dharamsala May 20, 2011

How will the Punjab fairytale end?


Match facts

Saturday, May 21, Dharamsala
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)

Big Picture

The task ahead of Kings XI Punjab is simple: beat Deccan Chargers by as big a margin as possible on Saturday. Mumbai Indians' sorry show against Rajasthan Royals has brightened Punjab's prospects, and provided them with windows of opportunity at both ends of the Net Run-Rate curve. Punjab are already ahead of Mumbai on NRR, and if they win by a big enough margin, they will leapfrog Kolkata as well, reducing the final league game into a shoot-out. If, on the other hand, Punjab win by a small margin, they will remain behind Kolkata on NRR, and will want Mumbai to either lose, or win by a margin huge enough to pull Kolkata to fifth on the table. All these permutations, however, will count for nought if Punjab lose against Deccan.

The possibilities are endless, and the situation calls for cool heads that can ignore the distractions and approach the game with uncluttered minds. In captain Adam Gilchrist and coach Michael Bevan, Punjab have just the men for the job. So far, Punjab's campaign has hurtled along like a chronic insomniac over-dosing on sleeping pills: with arguably the weakest side on paper in the competition, they have been through a three-match winning streak and a five-game losing run, followed by four successive wins. Can they hold it together for one last game?

The dark cloud in Punjab's horizon is that, if they can't pull off a big win tomorrow, Kolkata and Mumbai will know exactly what they need to do when they play their last game. The darker cloud - literally - is that a rain-out in Kolkata will knock out Punjab irrespective of Saturday's outcome. The silver lining is that the normally meek Deccan are further weakened by the absence of Kumar Sangakkara, and have little to play for at the end of a forgettable season. The hills in Dharamsala could witness an interesting duel tomorrow.

Form guide (most recent first)

Deccan Chargers: WWLLL (eighth in points table)
Kings XI Punjab: WWWWL (fifth in points table)

Team talk

Both teams are on winning streaks, and are unlikely to fiddle with their combinations. Sangakkara's absence might force Deccan to fall back on the hopelessly out-of-form Cameron White. Chris Lynn and Michael Lumb are the other likely replacements.

The more interesting variable in the lead-up to the game could be the nature of the strip at Dharamsala. The ball swung around in windy conditions in the Bangalore game, and there might be assistance from the track on Saturday. Preparing a seamer-friendly wicket can however be a dangerous move, against an attack that includes Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma.

Predict the playing XIs for this match. Play ESPNcricinfo Team Selector.

In the spotlight

Talk of Punjab's campaign, and only the spurts of brilliance stand out - from Paul Valthaty, Adam Gilchrist and Piyush Chawla. Few will remember a single innings of note from Shaun Marsh, yet he has been the only constant in their topsy-turvy campaign. He scores a half-century once in nearly every two IPL outings, and is the only batsman who averages more than 50 across four seasons. That's staggering for anyone, but especially for a middle-order batsman, who has often batted in the shadow of Gilchrist, Yuvraj Singh, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

IPL 2011 has been a microcosm of Ishant Sharma's international career. He's managed to hit speeds of 150+kph, got the ball to kick and spit at the batsmen's throats from a length, and he's bowled the spell of the season. Amid those crests, he has also slipped in listless lengths, and has taken his share of tap. Which version of Ishant will turn up for the last game?

Prime numbers

  • Punjab are the specialists at ending streaks for their opponents. They ended seven-match streaks for Pune and Bangalore. The former was a losing streak, the latter was a winning streak and both are IPL records.
  • Gilchrist's smash-a-thon against Bangalore has reaffirmed his spot at the top of the IPL six-hitters chart. He now has 80, seven ahead of Yusuf Pathan, and nine clear of Suresh Raina

    The chatter

    "Ok so Dharamsala is beautiful, but if the pitch plays anything like the nets did today, there could be a fatality!"
    Dale Steyn's Tweet after his first net session, on what might have been an under-prepared strip, is actually a veiled warning

    Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on May 21, 2011, 10:33 GMT

    The cruelest irony will be that even if KXIP win big enough against DC as required but if KKR vs MI turns out a wash out i.e. 1-1 it will rob KXIP of all chances.

  • MURALIDHARAN on May 21, 2011, 10:19 GMT

    punab wont qualify for semi s mumbai fans dont worry.............

  • Anoop on May 21, 2011, 10:15 GMT

    In order to qualify for playoff & to make MI vs KKR as another playoff, Punjab should win by 62 balls if batting first or should chase down the target in 76 balls if batting second..then their NRR will be nearabout +0.480..

  • Dummy4 on May 21, 2011, 10:08 GMT

    Despite his great knocks, Shaun Marsh finds less favour in the Aussie team. He is the most essential in their re-build phase when they will finally lose Ponting, Hussey et al. Cammy White has continuously disappointed, whether with RCB or DC this year, though he was a captaincy material. Aussie selection sometimes resembles Indian selection, for bad reasons!

  • Dummy4 on May 21, 2011, 9:59 GMT

    Nice Article , Deccan is my home team, butt still i want Punjab to win this game...Best of luck..!!

  • Samuel on May 21, 2011, 9:55 GMT

    That's an astonishing record for Shaun Marsh - can someone tell me why the Australians have failed to pick him consistently?

  • viswanath on May 21, 2011, 9:33 GMT

    punjab pls lose thise match mumbai will hve to qualify come on steyn u can do it

  • Dummy4 on May 21, 2011, 9:13 GMT

    though ima Dc supporter im in a dilemma whom 2 suport...!! i've been suprtn KXIP 4 all dere 4 games which were needed 2 win 2 entr de qualifiers and now its vs. DC!! so.... i'll be hppy if eithr team wins nd more if KXIP cuz der win can advantage thm but not 2 Dc nemor..!!

  • Dummy4 on May 21, 2011, 9:02 GMT

    Well I dont see MI or Banglore winning this IPL... They are only a one man teams...

  • Ajit on May 21, 2011, 8:35 GMT

    You know what would be unfortunate? Even if Punjab win by 100+ runs and have a NNR far superior to KKR's, they would still have to hope the match between MI and KKR doesn't get abandoned! Though the weather does seem good for some cricket.

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