Punjab look to maintain momentum
Match factsFriday, May 23, 2008
Start time 20.00 (local), 14.30 (GMT)
The Big PictureWith Kolkata Knight Riders' match against the Delhi Daredevils washed out, Kings XI Punjab find themselves in the semi-finals and now play for rankings in the top four. Their one-run win against the Mumbai Indians on Wednesday would have boosted them and they will be eager to maintain their winning momentum against the bottom-placed Deccan Chargers at home, where they have lost only one match - their first - so far.
One can't, however, write off Deccan, who will take heart from the manner in which the Bangalore Royal Challengers - similarly out of knockout contention - beat a complacent Chennai Super Kings on Wednesday. Deccan can only salvage some pride and avoid ending the tournament in last place.
The last time the two sides met, in Hyderabad, Punjab beat Deccan by seven wickets on the back of Shaun Marsh's unbeaten half-century. Though they have missed Kumar Sangakkara for five matches now, Punjab have found an able replacement in Luke Pomersbach, an Australian Twenty20 specialist.
Tournament positionKings XI Punjab: P11, W8, L3, NRR +0.436
Deccan Chargers: P11, W2, L9, NRR -0.463
Form (last five matches, most recent first)Kings XI Punjab: WWWLW
Deccan Chargers: LLLLW
Watch out for ...
Team newsDespite missing Sangakkara, Punjab have no worries over their batting. In their last four wins, they haven't used more than six batsmen to set or chase a target. However, with a semi-final spot sealed, Punjab may experiment with their batting order, giving Pankaj Dharmani a game over Uday Kaul. But their bowling needs some attention - Sreesanth and Irfan Pathan conceded 34 runs in the first two overs against Mumbai. VRV Singh, who bowled the see-saw final over in that game, went wicketless and for 14 an over. Punjab may think of bringing back medium-pacer Gagandeep Singh for batsman Tanmay Srivastava.
Kings XI Punjab (probable): 1 Shaun Marsh, 2 James Hopes, 3 Luke Pomersbach, 4 Yuvraj Singh (capt), 5 Mahela Jayawardene 6 Irfan Pathan, 7 Pankaj Dharmani (wk), 8 Gagandeep Singh, 9 Piyush Chawla, 10 Sreesanth, 11 VRV Singh.
It's been more than two weeks since Deccan won a game but in the Twenty20 format an over can turn the match on its head. Gilchrist and Venugopal Rao are their only batsmen to have fired with some consistency but since they have nothing to lose, Deccan may continue to give chances to their younger players. Herschelle Gibbs, dropped for the previous game against Mumbai for Orissa's 21-year old wicketkeeper Halhadar Das, may find himself excluded yet again. After conceding 37 runs in three overs against Mumbai, Nuwan Zoysa may also be dropped in favour of medium-pacer Sarvesh Kumar.
Deccan Chargers (probable): 1 Adam Gilchrist (capt & wk), 2 Shahid Afridi, 3 Rohit Sharma, 4 Chamara Silva, 5 Venugopal Rao, 6 D Ravi Teja, 7 Sarvesh Kumar, 8 Halhadhar Das, 9 RP Singh, 10 Pragyan Ojha, 11 D Vijaykumar.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"We have been outplayed in big areas though a number of games have been quite close. But close enough is not good enough."
Adam Gilchrist sums up why his team are lagging behind.
"The ... problem in Twenty20 is that it is quite tough to grip the ball in the initial overs. The ball doesn't lose its shine and that is a problem."
Piyush Chawla on being a Twenty20 bowler.
"He [Chawla] has been bowling well whenever I have thrown ball to him. Eight out of 10 times he has performed."
Meanwhile Yuvraj Singh, the Punjab captain, is happy with his young charge.
Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at Cricinfo