Cuttack: This is a record Deccan will seek to fix on a priority. Without any delay. They have never beaten Punjab in the IPL and Friday's 'home away from home' game at the Barabati Stadium here is just the right place to begin to return the favour.
In the first edition, Punjab beat Deccan quite comprehensively. In the second edition, even though Deccan won the tournament, they still went down to the Kings in both the games with the margin of victory in the second contest being just one run. Deccan will now hope they get third time lucky, while Punjab will look to continue their luck against Adam Gilchrist's men and register their first win in the third edition of the tournament.
After losing their opening game against Kolkata on Friday, Deccan came back to register a fine win over Chennai. Punjab though have not been lucky enough. They first lost their home game against Delhi and then went down in a high-scoring affair against Bangalore. And while their batting came good in the second game, the bowling left much to be desired.
Punjab as a team though are struggling. While they put on a much-improved batting show in Bangalore, their bowling has been the weak link. The absence of Brett Lee has hurt them and almost all their bowlers, including S Sreesanth and Yusuf Abdullah were taken to the cleaners in the last game. Kumar Sangakkara's captaincy skill will be tested to the hilt in Friday's night game.
Ravi Bopara has been the lone batsman from Punjab who has shown consistency but he alone will not be able to brush aside Deccan. Yuvraj Singh, Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene will have to come good if Punjab are to take on the strong Deccan bowling lineup.
Chaminda Vaas continues to defy his age with two superb spells, while RP Singh and Pragyan Ojha have been incisive and tidy.
Gilchrist has himself been in sublime form and Herschelle Gibbs and Andrew Symonds have found the sweet spot. Punjab will be in a with a real chance if they can get rid of these three players as the rest of the Deccan batsman, including VVS Laxman and Rohit Sharma are yet to get into the flow.
It's more or less even stevens in this game, with the Deccan morale sure to be a litte higher than Punjab. Kalinga is known for a famous battle in Indian history. Will the Kings hold off the Chargers or will the Chargers overrun the Kings? Kalinga's battlefield awaits a fine contest!