Having revived their semi-final hopes with a morale-boosting six-wicket win over table toppers Delhi Daredevils, Kings XI Punjab would look to continue their domination over Deccan Chargers in their must-win Indian Premier League match here on Sunday.
With 12 points from 12 matches and only one match left after Sunday’s clash, they will have to win against Deccan, who have an equal 12 points from 11 outings, if they desire to be in the running for the remaining three semi-final spots after Daredevils had already reserved their place in the last four.
Kings XI had not been a consistent side in this year’s IPL having failed to establish a winning momentum but their win against Daredevils on Friday have shown that they can beat any team in the tournament on their day.
They will have the psychological advantage going into the match as they had beaten Adam Gilchrist’s men by three wickets in their earlier meeting.
What would have boosted confidence of Kings XI was the return to form of fit-again Australian fast bowler Brett Lee whose man-of-the-match winning 3/15 effort against Delhi kept their semi-final hopes alive.
Lee has added sting to the Kings XI bowling department which also has tough competition within with South African Yusuf Abdulla warming the bench.
Lee bowled with fire and penetration to make life difficult for Delhi batsmen. He also got ample support from maverick pacer S Sreesanth and Irfan Pathan.
In the spin department, Piyush Chawla has been doing a decent job of choking the run flow though without much luck.
In batting, Kumar Sangakkara has been in consistent form and captain Yuvraj has been among the top run-getters though he has not set South Africa on fire so far. Irfan has been chipping in useful runs in the lower order.
Mahela Jayawardene, who is suffering from a hamstring injury is unlikely to return to the side as indicated by Yuvraj after the match against Delhi.
For Deccan, they have to leave behind their “cricket suicide” committed against Delhi on May 13. Their middle order will have to stop gifting away wickets and think of finishing off matches. They will also have to pull up their socks in the fielding department.
Rohit Sharma, who had failed in his last three outings, is due a big score while Gilchrist could be tempted to bring back Herschelle Gibbs at the top and push Tirumalasetti down the order after Luke Pomersbach failed against Delhi.
Sri Lankan veteran Chaminda Vaas’ impressive form after sitting out in the early part of the event would come handy for Gilchrist while Pragyan Ojha has been consistent in spin department.
RP Singh though will have to regain his wicket-taking ways to create trouble in the Kings XI top order.