Less than 48 hours after nailing an in-form Royal Challengers Bangalore, Punjab Kings hopes to scalp another front-runner Delhi Capitals on Sunday in a clash that opens the second half of matches in the Indian Premier League.
Having lost to Delhi by six wickets in Mumbai, Punjab has a score to settle. However, its vulnerable middle-order faces scrutiny by some reputed bowlers desperate to perform to their potential.
This ‘Northern Derby’ at Ahmedabad promises a tall scoring encounter. The teams are capable of shifting gears with explosive power from their frontline batsmen. Leading contenders for the Orange Cap - leader K. L. Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw resume the race.
With Chris Gayle and Shimron Hetmyer making no secret of their desire to be in the mix and a highly-rated Nicholas Pooran desperate to end his poor form - dotted with four ducks - a few bowlers could come under the pump.
To ensure a playoff-spot, a team needs eight wins. With seven to play, Delhi has five victories and Punjab three.
Clearly, the result assumes more importance for Punjab. It needs a winning run like the one seen in last October with five successive triumphs in the second half of the competition.
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Since Punjab plays its last five matches in Bangalore - the last three against off-form Kolkata Knight Riders, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals - it gives a sense of ‘home-coming’ for Rahul, Gayle and Mayank Agarwal. Therefore, Punjab stays optimistic of its qualifying prospects.
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