Kings XI Punjab v Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL, Port Elizabeth May 2, 2009

Punjab aim to get back in top four

Match facts

May 3, 2009
Start time 12.30pm (10.30 GMT)

Big Picture

Kings XI Punjab are the only team in the IPL to hold the dubious distinction of having lost to the bottom-placed Kolkata Knight Riders, and come Sunday, they'll be keen to set the record straight and win back a place in the top four. Though the setback against Royal Challengers Bangalore dented their three-match winning streak, there were some positives with Yuvraj Singh's all-round performance, especially his success as opener, and the proven reliability of their bowlers.

Kolkata's only success is also an indication of their struggling form, for the win over Punjab came in a rain-affected game. Though it is fair to say they were in a dominant position in that encounter before the D/L method came into play, they have since suffered the dual misfortune of failing to hold their nerve in tight situations, and being shut out completely to lose by convincing margins.

The pressure was on Kolkata from the outset. The multiple-captains saga, the popularity of the franchise owner and the expensive signings ahead of the second season made them one of the most closely followed teams in the competition. The pre-tournament hype, however, is gradually turning into an embarrassment.

The impending departure of Chris Gayle, a struggling captain in Brendon McCullum and an inconsistent icon player in Sourav Ganguly have compounded their worries. Morne van Wyk and Brad Hodge have impressed; but with little indication of being capable of mounting a dramatic comeback, another failure will put Kolkata perilously close to being ruled out of a chance at the semi-finals.

Form guide (last five completed games, most recent first)

Kings XI Punjab - LWWWL
Punjab's strength has been their bowling, with Yusuf Abdulla proving a revelation. However, their batting requires greater consistency. They have relied extensively on the services of Kumar Sangakkara. Karan Goel has been patchy as opener, and Mahela Jayawardene has had a disappointing IPL by his standards.

Kolkata Knight Riders- LLLLW
McCullum averages only 5.16 this season and his much touted combination with Gayle has been a failure. They have averaged 18.2 for the first wicket, and even McCullum's demotion to No. 6 in the previous game didn't make much of a difference. In conditions favourable to spin, Kolkata's slow bowlers haven't had much success while those of other teams have thrived.

Watch out for

Yuvraj Singh delivered as an opener and successfully filled the void created by Ravi Bopara's departure. He is now Punjab's second-highest run-getter and has the best strike-rate as well. However, he'll look for more support from his opening partner Goel who started off well but has struggled in recent matches.

Team news

Simon Katich has had only one game this season and despite the disappointment against Bangalore, against whom he made 3 after replacing Ravi Bopara, could keep his place. However, Luke Pomersbach, who has an impressive strike rate of 144.77 in Twenty20 cricket, is yet to get a look-in, and may just win a call-up.

Punjab: (probable) 1 Karan Goel, 2 Yuvraj Singh (capt), 3 Simon Katich/Luke Pomersbach, 4 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 5 Mahela Jayawardene, 6 Irfan Pathan, 7 Taruwar Kohli, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Vikramjeet Malik, 10 Ramesh Powar, 11 Yusuf Abdulla.

Chris Gayle had written in his column in the Times of India, that he might stay back for the game against Punjab.

Kolkata 1 Brendon McCullum (capt), 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Sourav Ganguly, 4 Brad Hodge, 5 Morne van Wyk (wk), 6 Wriddhiman Saha, 7 Laxmi Shukla, 8 Ajit Agarkar, 9 Ashok Dinda, 10 Murali Kartik, 11 Ishant Sharma.

Head-to-head record

The teams won a match each against each other last season. Both were closely fought, with Punjab winning the first by nine runs, overcoming an onslaught from David Hussey and Wriddhiman Saha to successfully defend 178. Ganguly was the star in the second game, smashing 86 in pursuit of 174 to see Kolkata home with two balls to spare.

Siddhartha Talya is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo