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|Faf du Plessis||14||15||3||0||93.33|
We are just a couple of games away from the playoffs and the tussle for the final four spots is still on. At the halfway stage, Kings XI Punjab looked well set to finish among the top two teams in the points table and such has been the turn of events that they're now struggling to make it to the top four. Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings will feature in the last league game of the season which is to be played on 20th May at MCA Stadium Pune. This game will also decide the fate of KXIP provided that the other results go their way. Chennai Super Kings, on the contrary, have already qualified for the playoffs, but this match will become ever more important for them if Kolkata Knight Riders manage to register a win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Saturday's second game. With a possible playoff spot at stake for Kings XI Punjab, and Chennai Super Kings look to get back to the winning ways after a poor last match, expect this to be a hard tussle between the two sides.
The Super Kings already have a playoff spot locked in, but they'd not like to take things lightly in the last game of the round-robin stage. Having lost their last match, a superior performance will push them into the first qualifier with some positive momentum which matters a lot in the shortest format of the game.
Their death bowling was exposed yet again in their last match against Delhi Daredevils. Dwayne Bravo hasn't been at his usual best with the ball in this season, but he is unlikely to be replaced as we move into the business end of the tournament. Bowlers proved skipper's decision of electing to bowl first right as Deepak Chahar removed Prithvi Shaw early. CSK didn't allow to run away with the total despite Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant set in the middle. However, their failure to break the partnership between Vijay Shankar and Harshal Patel cost them the match.
Going by the form their batting is in, a total in the range of 160 shouldn't have been difficult to chase for them regardless of the pitch. Ambati Rayudu once again played a heroic knock of 50 runs off just 29 deliveries. With pitch beginning to slow down and Delhi's spinners bowling well, the CSK batsmen fell well short of the target. All among Sam Billings, Suresh Raina, and MS Dhoni failed to weave their magic which led to an eventual loss for Chennai Super Kings.
As MS Dhoni said at the post-match interview, it wasn't a performance where a particular player or plan was at fault for the loss. Chennai Super Kings will shrug that loss off and as they've have been in this kind of situations before, it is unlikely that KXIP will take them lightly in what might be the most important game of the tournament for them.
Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, SK Raina, MS Dhoni, Sam Billings, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, SN Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Lungi Ngidi.
Kings XI Punjab's campaign has gone awry ever since they had a six-day break. They are coming into this match after four straight losses to their name and it is imperative for them to post victory here, in order to have a chance to qualify for the knockouts.
Their batting is over-reliant on Chris Gayle and KL Rahul and with Chris Gayle's failure to fire in the past few games has hurt them badly. The lack of team effort in KXIP can be highlighted by the fact that both the orange cap holder and the purple cap holder in KL Rahul and Andrew Tye respectively play for the Kings. In addition to their misfiring batting order, there have been some poor decisions from Ravichandran Ashwin. Despite regular failures, Axar Patel has been given a go at the top of the order which has unsettled their batting order.
Barring Andrew Tye, their bowling doesn't look threatening at all. Injury to Mujeeb Ur Rahman hasn't helped their cause either. Ankit Rajpoot, Mohit Sharma, and the skipper himself haven't appeared to be wicket-taking. Furthermore, their bowlers haven't been able to bowl economically.
Kings XI Punjab have struggled to find their combination right from the beginning of the tournament. The form of Yuvraj Singh, Karun Nair, and Mayank Agarwal will be a cause for concern for the team management. With KL Rahul and Andrew Tye carrying the majority of the load for KXIP, it's high time for others to join the party. And if other players can chip in with some useful contributions, it won't be surprising to see KXIP prevail in this rivalry.
Lokesh Rahul, Chris Gayle, Aaron Finch, David Miller, Karun Nair, MK Tiwary, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, AJ Tye, Mohit Sharma, AS Rajpoot.
Pitch has favored batsmen right through the tournament and it isn't expected to be different this time around. Batting second allows the team to analyze the situation better which will certainly be in the captains' mind. Win the toss and field first will be the way to go in Pune.
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
Chennai Super Kings chased down the target of 180 with an over to spare when they played here in their last game and that was in the evening game. Batting tends to get better at Pune and dew can come into the picture. Going by the conditions and recent results, the team batting first will need to score a total of at least 180 to make a match out of it.
KXIP have a net run rate of -0.49 coming into this game. What works for them is that they'll exactly know the situation and what needs to be done for qualification. Having said that, they'd still have to sort their middle-order problems. Chennai Super Kings, on the other hand, will be pretty much unfazed by their loss in their previous match. Chennai Super Kings appear to be a better-balanced side and with experienced players available at their disposal, they are better placed to win what will be the last match of the league stage.