Deflated Punjab look to change fortunes
Match factsMay 9, 2009
Start time 12.30 pm local time (10.30GMT, 16.00 IST)
The IPL is now past its halfway stage and despite the jostle for a place in the top four, the results of today's matches will not radically alter the points table. Though the teams will compete for spots among themselves, they won't slip down to below the top four.
Deccan Chargers averted the threat of slipping into the danger zone by way of their win against Mumbai Indians, who imploded at a significant turn in the tournament. A win for Deccan will push them at least to second place, but the game carries enormous importance for their opponents Kings XI Punjab whose erratic form requires necessary correction.
Punjab have failed to retain the momentum of three consecutive wins to lose three in four, and will have to emulate Deccan, who put an end to their run of three successive defeats with a win against Mumbai, to narrow the gap between the teams. A win for Punjab will not earn them the coveted berth as one of the leading four teams yet - they will also have played ten games, while Deccan would still have a game in hand - but will mark an important step towards attaining that objective. A sixth defeat, on the other hand, will leave them languishing at No.6, hand them their third loss in a row and severely undermine the hard work to fight back to contention in the early phase of the tournament.
Form guide (completed matches, most recent first)
Deccan Chargers: WLLLW
Herschelle Gibbs, after a bright start to the IPL, has been in terrible form managing just eight runs in his last four innings, including three ducks. Gilchrist, too, has been patchy in his previous four outings and it's usually been the middle order which has propped up Deccan. Their bowling came good against Mumbai, with part-timers of the likes of Rohit Sharma and T Suman stepping in for the missing Pragyan Ojha to successfully defend their target.
Kings XI Punjab: LLWLW
Problems up the order for Punjab as well. They have persisted with Karan Goel despite his poor run - he's had scores of 0, 12, 20, 1 and 14 in his last five innings, and Sunny Sohal has had two poor games, with as many runs to his name. However, they'll be relieved that Simon Katich struck form against Chennai Super Kings, with Yuvraj Singh and Mahela Jayawardene contributing well to almost take them home.
Watch out forDeccan had been struggling at No.3 with both VVS Laxman and Azhar Bilakhia doing little to impress, but the promotion of T Suman against Mumbai almost reaped results. His two towering sixes off the Harbhajan Singh marked the highlight of his innings, and it won't be surprising if Deccan send him up again. He also proved an extremely handy offspinner, snapping the wickets of Pinal Shah and Dwayne Bravo, and conceding just 14 in his spell.
Will Deccan leave out Gibbs? They do have the option of experimenting with the top order, sending Suman to open with Gilchrist. They'll be boosted by the return of Andrew Symonds, who is likely to be given a go. They didn't miss Ojha all too much against Mumbai, but if he's fit, either Harmeet Singh or Shoaib Ahmed may have to sit out.
Deccan Chargers: (probable) 1 Adam Gilchrist (capt/wk), 2 T Suman, 3 Rohit Sharma, 4 Andrew Symonds, 5 Dwayne Smith, 6 Venugopal Rao, 7 Dwaraka Ravi Teja, 8 Ryan Harris, 9 Shoaib Ahmed/ Pragyan Ojha, RP Singh, Harmeet Singh/Pragyan Ojha.
VRV Singh was included in place of Ramesh Powar against Chennai, and was clattered for 36 in two overs. Apart from the option of bringing back Powar, Punjab could again switch VRV for Vikramjeet Malik as they had done earlier in the tournament. Brett Lee also returns from his trip to the UAE, but didn't play a game when he was available in the early part of the competition. Goel remains a worry, and Ravikant Shukla and Sahil Kukreja remain as replacement options.
Kings XI Punjab: (probable) 1 Sunny Sohal, 2 Simon Katich, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Yuvraj Singh (capt), 5 Mahela Jayawardene, 6 Irfan Pathan, 7 Ravikant Shukla, 8 Sreesanth, 9 Piyush Chawla, 10 Vikramjeet Malik/Ramesh Powar, 11 Yusuf Abdulla.
Stats and trivia
Shaun Marsh and Jayawardene steered Punjab to a comfortable seven-wicket win, chasing down 164 after Rohit had made a fiery 76.
The second game was much more closely fought - Deccan's top order clicked, with Gilchrist, Gibbs and Sharma each making sizable contributions to post 175. Marsh and Kumar Sangakkara led the reply with an 84-run stand, before the middle order chipped in to take Punjab home with three balls to spare.
Siddhartha Talya is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo