KKR was comfortably sitting on 4th position a few weeks ago with a four point gap between them and the bottom half of the table. The tide turned with the sudden flourish of the teams stuck in the bottom half of the table. Kings XI Punjab, after losing six out of seven games, suddenly gained momentum and won five in a row, which propelled them from last on the table to the 4th position, dethroning KKR and moving them to 5th in the standings.
Tonight, KKR has a chance not only to go back to the top half of the table but also to improve their Net Run Rate (NRR) depending on their margin victory over CSK — if they win. For CSK, this is unfamiliar territory as being the first team to be knocked out from playoff contention this year, CSK will be hoping to finish their campaign with a two wins. However, there is no pressure on the team as winning or losing would mean nothing in the current season. On the other hand, two victories can help them create momentum for the next season. KKR has to deal with a lot of issues going into this clash. They haven’t been able to win more than two matches on a trot. They have the third worse NRR in the league with -0.479. They would want to improve their NRR with today’s game. But KKR’s issue don’t end there.
KKR is definitely missing their former opener Chris Lynn (now part of the Mumbai Indians). Although Chris didn’t score big for them, he would give them a quick start in the PowerPlay, something the team is missing at this moment. KKR remains the only team to not have a fifty plus opening stand this season. Shubman Gill has looked decent for them but has been watchful in the Power Plays. His partner, Nitish Rana, played a great knock against Delhi Capitals (81 runs of 53 balls) but was out first ball against Punjab in their last game. KKR’s batsmen have blown hot and cold throughout this season but their biggest worry is Dinesh Karthik struggling to score runs. The onus of this is falling on KKR Skipper Eoin Morgan and the lower order consisting of Sunil Narine and Pat Cummins. Lockie Ferguson showed he could bat with quick fire 24 runs in 13 balls in their last game against KXIP.
CSK looked good with a near perfect match in their last match against RCB. MS Dhoni may look to give chances to his players as they are playing to end this campaign with two wins. KKR may bring back Andre Russell if he is healthy but cannot expect them to make too many changes at this juncture.