Punjab’s lengthy-winning streak came to an abrupt-end as did their batting unit last Thursday night as Hyderabad’s bowling attack outclassed the likes of KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Karun Nair and Aaron Finch who were all kept to scores substantially under their season averages. After a disappointing loss, they’ll host the dispirited-Mumbai Indians who continue to cough up losses at a regular rate, they now sit dead-last on the IPL 11 points table and look all but done and dusted as title contenders in 2018.
Experiencing an extended-period of success for quite some time before hitting a minor speed bump against the Sunrisers, Kings XI have a golden opportunity to respond to that loss with an overwhelming-victory over the bottom team in the comp if they’re up to it. I can honestly say that it was the first time in the tournament where the entirety of their batting line-up fell short of the mark, they’ve been one of the most lively & explosive top orders in 2018 which made that win for Hyderabad a bitter-sweet one as they jumped them in the standings as a result. The reason behind Kings XI’s dominance stems from that destructive opening batting combination they’ve formed featuring KL Rahul and Chris Gayle, both have displayed exquisite power-hitting to go along with a reasonable conversion rate to get their team off to a flyer in the first ten overs. Gayle’s start to the campaign will be forever-remembered as one of the most prolific ones, blasting 63, 104* & 62* in his first three games in 2018 which signifies this man’s importance. Against a struggling-Mumbai, you’d pencil the ‘world boss’ in for another freakishly-rapid innings. Despite the openers dominance, Aussie opener Aaron Finch is finding it hard to adjust to his role in the team, his poor form with the bat is letting the team down and he might have to considered as a possible omission for tomorrow night’s game. The decision to replace Finch with one of Marcus Stoinis or David Miller would definitely make sense, both are more-accustomed to batting in the middle order compared to Finch who has basically played his entire T20 & one-day career as an opener. Karun Nair’s reliability in the middle order will continue to shield some of the underperforming batsmen, he’s done a terrific job in IPL 11 so far with 186 runs from seven matches. It’s also worth keeping an eye on 24-year-old medium pacer Ankit Rajpoot, he’s been phenomenal with the ball for Punjab in these past couple of games, particularly against Hyderabad where he claimed a career-best 5/14.
It’s almost time to realistically come to terms with the fact that the 2018 playoffs are out of reach, that ship has well and truly sailed for Mumbai who have fallen a long way from grace since being crowned last year’s IPL champions. Signs of the team going into complete-meltdown were on display against the Royal Challengers who have had troubles of their own in IPL 11, a handful of Mumbai’s most promising individuals flopped big time as some cracks start to form in the dam wall for Rohit Sharma’s bottom-placed Mumbai Indians. The severity of this is huge, both Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan who have been solid throughout the tournament were dismissed cheaply along with skipper Rohit Sharma who added yet another howler of an innings to his IPL 11 journal. Energetic all-rounder Hardik Pandya posted his firs substantial knock of the year with a 42-ball fifty, but it wasn’t enough to make up for a dismal-middle order showing costing them their sixth loss. JP Duminy’s sluggish-23 off 29 deliveries was made to look good as the top order capitulated, it just goes to show that this team has been relying on the in-form Yadav & Kishan with the bat to produce something special each game, but even Kishan has dropped off the pace in recent times with two-scoreless outings against RCB and Hyderabad. He may not be having the best of tournaments with the bat, but Hardik Pandya has certainly made his mark in the side with the ball contributing 11 wickets at 15.63. The 24-year-old is striking every 10.72 balls which is a phenomenal effort for an all-rounder, Jasprit Bumrah has been tidy but has struggled to take wickets in recent times as one of the specialist seamers in the side. Their efforts with the ball can’t be faulted though, it’s been the batting that’s totally dragged them down in IPL 11. Kieron Pollard replaced Evin Lewis last game, and in typical-Pollard fashion he managed a mediocre run-a-ball 13….they have to cut their losses with the 30-year-old!
Top 5 fantasy picks | Kings XI Punjab | 34th match | Indore
- Chris Gayle
- Karun Nair
- KL Rahul
- Andrew Tye
- Ankit Rajpoot
Wildcard pick – David Miller
Top 5 fantasy picks | Mumbai Indians | 34th match | Indore
- Rohit Sharma
- Hardik Pandya
- Suryakumar Yadav
- Jasprit Bumrah
- Krunal Pandya
Wildcard pick – Mayank Markande
Kings XI Punjab
It’s looking doubtful that Aaron Finch will hold his spot in the starting XI for tomorrows match, his form suggests that he’s again on the outer with the runs just not coming at the moment. Both David Miller and Marcus Stoinis are in hot contention to replace the struggling Aussie opening batsman against Mumbai at Indore. Mayank Agarwal has been given a decent run at No. 3 for Punjab this season, but with an average of just 17.50 from seven games, the right-hander could find it tough to hold his spot in the side soon if he keeps caving in his innings early. Yuvraj Singh could be on the cusp of a return despite being dropped not long ago, only a handful of top order batsmen have consolidated their spot in the side. Spinner Axar Patel is also a chance to play his first IPL game of 2018 after recovering from an injury, we could see a number of changes to the Kings XI line-up tomorrow.
Currently sitting 8th on the standings, expect the unexpected from Mumbai in terms of team selection for the rest of the tournament. Leaving Evin Lewis out of their last game was a bold move, and in the end it didn’t pay off with his replacement Kieron Pollard failing to impress once again. They have the option to give Mitchell McClenaghan a rest with fellow-New Zealand quick Adam Milne in the squad awaiting his opportunity; he’s renowned for his pace in International cricket and should offer plenty with the new ball. On the same note, they could also opt for a strong seam bowling attack and bring back Bangladesh’s Mustafizur Rahman.
Kings XI Punjab (possible) – 1. KL Rahul (wk) 2. Chris Gayle 3. Mayank Agarwal/Manoj Tiwary 4. Karun Nair 5. David Miller/Marcus Stoinis 6. Axar Patel 7. Ravi Ashwin © 8. Andrew Tye 9. Barinder Sran/Mohit Sharma 10. Ankit Rajpoot 11. Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Mumbai Indians (possible) – 1. Evin Lewis 2. Suryakumar Yadav 3. Rohit Sharma © 4. Ishan Kishan (wk) 5. JP Duminy/Kieron Pollard 6. Hardik Pandya 7. Krunal Pandya 8. Ben Cutting/Mustafizur Rahman 9. Mitchell McClenaghan/Adam Milne 10. Mayank Markande 11. Jasprit Bumrah.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.