Kings XI batsmen need to step up
April 16, 2013
Start time 1600 local (1030 GMT)
On paper, Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab appear mismatched on one count- the batting. Kings XI were not tested in their opening game, chasing a paltry 100, but in their next two managed under-par scores of 138 and 124, losing both. A look at their batting line-up explains their apathy. Their captain Adam Gilchrist is struggling for runs, and in trying to break free played a poor shot on Sunday against Rajasthan Royals. Their middle order comprises uncapped Indian players in Manan Vohra, Mandeep Singh and Gurkeerat Singh and expectations from them will always be low, though all have potential. It leaves a heavy burden on David Hussey, who, not surprisingly, was their top scorer in their last two games. Azhar Mahmood is their most experienced player after Gilchrist, but Kings XI cannot afford to leave everything to their middle order and below to bail them out. The top order needs to step up, and give their bowlers a decent total to defend.
Knight Riders in contrast have a stronger top order and it makes a difference when the captain fires. While Gilchrist has been under par, his counterpart Gautam Gambhir hasn't, already piling on 175 runs from four matches. Jacques Kallis' experience is unmatched, and with Brendon McCullum fit, Knight Riders will find it hard to leave out either Kallis or Eoin Morgan to accommodate him. Having piled on 180 in their last match, against Sunrisers Hyderabad, and winning by 48 runs, it is unlikely they will want to tinker with their line-up, unless they have to.
Players to watch
Sachithra Senanayake played his first IPL match on Sunday, and Knight Riders didn't regret picking him. The Sri Lanka offspinner opened the bowling and finished with miserly figures of 4-0-18-1. His spell didn't allow Sunrisers to get away to a strong start chasing a big target. Knight Riders will want to retain him for at least another game.
It's good news for Kings XI that Adam Gilchrist's wicketkeeping reflexes haven't waned, having pulled off two difficult takes against Royals. It will be better news for them if he can score more runs, and improve on his scores of 15, 9 and 0. As a captain and an overseas player, he picks himself. Explosive starts from Gilchrist will be crucial for Kings XI going forward.
Stats and trivia
- Jacques Kallis needs two wickets to become the second-highest wicket-taker for KKR in the IPL. Sunil Narine is first (31) and Rajat Bhatia is second (26).
- Adam Gilchrist and Shaun Marsh hold the record for the highest partnership in the IPL. They added 206 runs for Kings XI against Royal Challengers Bangalore in May 2011.
- Gautam Gambhir is the third highest run-getter in the IPL against Kings XI Punjab with 312 runs from 9 matches at an average of 52.
Quotes"Last year, trying to get into a winning side was very difficult. I hope I get to play as many games as possible for KKR this year."
"We did not play our full quota of 20 overs so that did make a difference. Maybe we could have added 12-15 runs in those balls."
Kings XI medium-pacer Praveen Kumar on what went wrong against Royals
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo