Punjab need Indian players to step up
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
With two defeats in as many games, Kings XI Punjab are under pressure to get a foothold in this IPL edition, though it's still early days. Their batsmen haven't fired, and the bowlers have conceded 191 and 166, which proved too much in the end for their batsmen to chase. Their opponents at home tomorrow are Pune Warriors, familiar faces considering they played each other on Sunday.
Kings XI will hope to mobilse some home support to get their campaign going. If they are to retain their batting line-up, they could promote David Hussey from No.5 to give Adam Gilchrist more support. They will wait on the fitness of the left-handed batsman Shaun Marsh, who missed the last game due to injury.
What Kings XI need is for at least one of their Indian players to step up, inspire the rest and relieve the pressure on the overseas players.
The Warriors, following a dry debut season last year, have now become one of the teams to watch after winning both their opening games. The bowlers have combined well in both games, particularly so in their first match against Mumbai Indians where they defended 129. If they are to make one change, Tamim Iqbal, the in-form Bangladesh opener, could replace either Jesse Ryder or Callum Ferguson.
Players to watch
Steven Smith, the spin-bowling Australian allrounder, is proving really capable as a finisher for the Warriors, with scores of 39 and 25. His innings against Kings XI featured three massive sixes in the final few overs.
Since his blistering century last season which launched him in the IPL, Paul Valthaty is under pressure to keep his place at the top, with scores of 13 and 1. He also had a quiet Ranji Trophy season for Himachal Pradesh, scoring 120 runs in five first-class games.
Stats and trivia
"We have looked at different combinations to this point, but he is definitely an option. We have got a good balance of left-hand and right-hand, so that's played its part about who is batting at what position, but there is every chance that he might be up there."
Adam Gilchrist hints that David Hussey could move up the batting order
"We are a very good bowling side. But sometimes, you don't want to have too many options."
Sourav Ganguly, the Warriors captain
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo