Punjab must topple giants to stay alive
Match factsSaturday, May 19, 2012
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
Kings XI Punjab's sternest test has been left for last. They came into their final two games needing to win both, first against the defending champions and then this year's form team, to have any chance of progressing to the playoffs. They duly trampled Chennai Super Kings in Dharamsala to remain in contention, and will need to repeat the performance against Delhi Daredevils on Saturday. Even if they do, they will have to hope for a couple of other results to go their way, to secure their place in the final four.
Getting past Daredevils, needless to say, will be a tough proposition. The teams met on Tuesday for the first time, with Daredevils securing an easy five-wicket win. Kings XI did well to pick up four early wickets to give themselves a fighting chance of defending 136, but in the final analysis, their batsmen let them down. They turned it around against Super Kings with a fine bowling effort in seaming conditions. Kings XI's ground fielding, though, wasn't impressive.
Daredevils fell short by 21 runs in a high-scorer at the Feroz Shah Kotla against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Their bowlers had a tough outing, taking just one wicket and leaking 215. Virender Sehwag sat out due to an illness and Morne Morkel was rested. Their return for the final league match is uncertain. Daredevils can still experiment, considering they're already through to the playoffs and have made sure they'll have the added benefit of finishing in the top two. Daredevils' batting looked vulnerable in spicier bowling conditions in Chennai recently. Dharamsala may not give them much respite.
Kings XI Punjab: WLWWL (most recent first, completed games)
Delhi Daredevils: LWLWL
Players to watch
Adam Gilchrist had to sit out nine matches to allow his torn hamstring to heal. The wait was worth it as he hammered an unbeaten 64 against Super Kings to pilot Kings XI's chase, and there were no signs of rustiness as he brought out his trademark cuts and slogs.
It had been a sleepy tournament for Ross Taylor until his aggressive 55 off 26 balls at the Kotla against Royal Challengers. Taylor was the only half-centurion for Daredevils in their chase of 216 and his wicket turned out to be the most prized of the evening. His return to form has strengthened Daredevils' middle-order, which had seemed in dodgy form after Kevin Pietersen's departure.
Stats and trivia
- Daredevils have the second-best strike-rate this season: 132.35, behind only Royal Challengers Bangalore
- Kings XI's current leading run-scorer and wicket-taker are Indian players: Mandeep Singh (432 runs) and Parvinder Awana (17 wickets)
Quotes"We are underdogs, and we have still managed to beat all the big teams. We always believed in our game and played hard cricket.
Azhar Mahmood on Kings XI's progress
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.