Three out of the four teams — Kings XI Punjab, Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals — playing in today’s double-header have an opportunity to strengthen their chances for a finish in the top four spot. The fourth team is Chennai Super Kings, but if they beat KXIP today, the latter will be eliminated. A big win is needed for KXIP to improve their run rate, giving them a better chance of qualifying after Delhi Capitals’ loss to MI and Bangalore’s lose to SRH, resulting in both teams’ (DC and RCB) net run rate to go under KXIP’s NRR.
A lot is on the line for KXIP. After starting the season with just one win in their first seven matches, Punjab turned their fortunes by winning five in a row, boosting them from the bottom to the fourth spot on the table. However, a loss against RR on October 30 means they will reach only 14 points if they win their game against CSK. In their last match, Punjab’s batsmen put on a decent 185-5 in 20 overs with Chris Gayle scoring 99 off 63 balls. Nicholas Pooran’s 22 runs in 10 balls cameo were essential, as the other batsmen couldn’t accelerate. KXIP skipper KL Rahul scored 46 runs off 41 balls after his opening partner Mandeep Singh was out for a first bowl duck. Glenn Maxwell scored six runs of six balls. Deepak Hooda scored a solitary run off the only ball he faced. KXIP bowlers didn’t have a good day either as dew played a key factor while RR’s batsmen hammered them to all parts of the ground. Rajasthan chased down 185 in 17.3 overs, affecting KXIP’s net run rate in the process. KXIP would want to rectify their mistakes in their final league game.
On the other hand, CSK dented KKR’s playoffs hopes with 6 six wickets win in their last game. CSK’s youngster came to the party and took the game away from KKR. Even though KKR’s batsmen managed to score 172-5 courtesy of a blistering knock of 87 runs from Nitish Rana, it wasn’t enough runs on the board. CSK’s new found sparkling youngster Rituraj Gaikwad smashed his second consecutive half century ending with 72 runs off 53 balls, ably supported by Ambati Rayudu (38 off 20) and the finishing touches given by Ravindra Jadeja (31 off 11) smashing two consecutive sixes helping CSK win two consecutive games. Chennai will be looking to rain on KXIP’s parade and their season with a hat-trick of wins.
Seeing how Rajasthan won their last two games chasing, the winner of today’s toss might feel inclined to chase, although during afternoon games three out of four games including a Super Over was won by teams batting first in Abu Dhabi. Whatever it maybe, Punjab has only one thing on their mind — a comprehensive win to stay alive in the playoffs.