Having gifted a couple of points to Kings XI Punjab in their previous match, Kolkata Knight Riders will be itching for a redemption act when the two teams clash again in match 22 of IPL 5 in Mohali on Wednesday. A batting disaster which saw KKR fail to chase down their winning target of 135 against KXIP in their home fixture will be a major worry for Gautam Gambhir; the KKR skipper was scathing in his criticism of his team's batsmen after the two-run defeat against Punjab on Sunday.
"How can I say in a press conference that I am happy with their form? I've some experienced players and they need to take up responsibility. Otherwise there will be the need to take some strong and drastic decisions," an angry Gambhir said after his side's loss. "I am obviously pretty disappointed with the performance. The way we started in the first six overs, we should have chased it down. But it's a worrying sign if you end up losing these kinds of games."
After a scintillating bowling performance by offspinner Sunil Narine (5 for 19) which set KKR an asking rate of less than seven runs per over, it was Punjab who turned things around in spectacular fashion after Kolkata were cruising at 73 for 2 in the 12th of the chase. The wheels were well and truly off after that and despite a brisk cameo from Debabrata Das, Punjab edged home as legspinner Piyush Chawla finished with figures of 3 for 18.
While Kolkata have two wins and three losses from five games, they are lucky to find themselves ahead of Punjab who have two victories and as many losses from four matches, as a result of their superior run rate. Having said that, KXIP would feel that they dodged a bullet in their last fixture against KKR, and another low score on Wednesday might turn out to be a case of tempting fate once too often.
Punjab skipper's Adam Gilchrist - who has a highest score of 27 in the competition - will be hoping that the stage is set for him to play himself back into form in front of a partisan home crowd, and turn the fortunes of his team for the better. Kolkata on the other hand will be desperate for their star-studded batting line-up to get their act together, in an attempt to shed the tag of paper tigers that has been associated with the image of the team for way too long now.
Kings XI Punjab: 1 Adam Gilchrist (capt/wk), 2 Mandeep Singh, 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 David Hussey, 5 Paras Dogra, 6 Bipul Sharma, 7 Dimitri Mascarenhas, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Harmeet Singh, 11 Bhargav Bhatt
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Jacques Kallis, 2 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 3 Manvinder Bisla (wk), 4 Manoj Tiwary, 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Yusuf Pathan, 7 Debabrata Das, 8 Ryan ten Doeschate, 9 Rajat Bhatia, 10 Sunil Narine, 11 Laxmipathy Balaji