In-form KKR takes on bottom-placed KXIP at home

Slotted second on the Indian Premier League (IPL) table with 10 points, the two-time champion will have a rare luxury of playing five of its remaining six engagements in front of its passionate supporters. KKR would resume its home leg against the bottom-placed Kings XI Punjab on Wednesday.

Kings XI Punjab cricketer Glenn Maxwell with assistant coach Sanjay Bangar during a training session at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Tuesday.   -  PTI

After travelling for nearly three weeks to play six away matches in a row due to the West Bengal polls, Gautam Gambhir and his men returned to the home comforts of the Eden Gardens on Tuesday.

Slotted second on the Indian Premier League (IPL) table with 10 points, the two-time champion will have a rare luxury of playing five of its remaining six engagements in front of its passionate supporters. KKR would resume its home leg against the bottom-placed Kings XI Punjab on Wednesday.

This season KKR has enjoyed balance and depth. Captain Gautam Gambhir has been leading from the front with a string of fine performances and seems to be in complete command.

Apart from Gambhir, KKR has relied on Robin Uthappa and Suryakumar Yadav to put up runs on the board. Yusuf Pathan rising to the expectation against Royal Challengers Bangalore and Manish Pandey, who missed a few matches due to a bout of chicken pox, getting fit should relieve the side.

KKR’s strong point is its variety in bowling. Umesh Yadav and Morne Morkel have served the team well in the pace department, while the experienced trio of Piyush Chawla, Brad Hogg and Sunil Narine have bolstered the spin section. Not to forget the utility all-rounder in Andre Russell, who has made some crucial contributions picking up nine wickets and scoring 133 runs so far.

The host will enjoy the psychological advantage of taming KXIP in its backyard two weeks ago.

Nevertheless, KXIP looks determined to improve its performance. Murali Vijay, the top run-getter for the side, taking over as the captain from David Miller has augured well for the side, which defeated Gujarat Lions to arrest its series of losses.

KXIP might miss the services of an injured Shaun Marsh but would make up for it if batsmen like Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and Wriddhiman Saha realise their potential. Manan Vohra, who has produced some good knocks, should provide some hope.

KXIP bowlers exhibited their firepower and helped the side beat GL. Pacer Mohit Sharma, who has achieved three-wicket hauls thrice, and left-arm spinner Axar Patel, who captured four against GL, are in good touch, while new ball bowler Sandeep Sharma has been consistent. KXIP would hope its Australian pace ace Mitchell Johnson makes his presence felt.

The underdog will be keen to collect another win and may pose some serious challenges for KKR, which is playing its fourth match in seven days.

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