Buoyant by their last-gasp win against Deccan Chargers on Sunday, Kings XI Punjab will take on table-toppers Delhi Daredevils in another crunch game at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Tuesday. Punjab, despite registering back-to-back victories against Deccan, still need to win their remaining three matches to keep their playoffs' hopes alive. Delhi, on the other hand, have been given a reality check in their last game by Chennai Super Kings. The Virender Sehwag-led side could only manage 114 runs in their 20 overs and lost the match convincingly by nine wickets in Chennai.
The match holds more significance from Punjab's point of view. Their batsmen have managed to both chase and defend totals so far in the league. Despite a blip in form, Nitin Saini is still their best bet at top of the order. The team's other opener Mandeep Singh is the find of the tournament, with 387 runs so far. The core of the side – Shaun Marsh, Azhar Mahmood and David Hussey – all have been in great touch. Siddharth Chitnis couldn’t face many balls against Deccan but may again be given a nod ahead of Abhishek Nayar.
However, the worrying factor for Punjab would be their bowling, which conceded 190 against DC. Even the form bowlers Mahmood and Parvinder Awana were taken for aplenty. But in spite of their drubbing, that’s the best combination Punjab have, and they are expected to keep it as is against Delhi. Praveen Kumar's swing can prove a potent weapon against Sehwag, who was cleaned up by a swirling ball from Ben Hilfenhaus. Piyush Chawla, despite having a topsy-turvy ride so far, can use his legspin to good effect, while Ryan Harris’ pace could be useful too.
And though Delhi's batting came a cropper against Chennai, expecting them to meet the same fate will be wishful thinking. Their opening combination of Sehwag and David Warner is as explosive as it can get, while Mahela Jayawardene and Naman Ojha too have had their moments in the league. Venugopal Rao, though scoring just 27, displayed the depth in his batting against CSK. The hosts may well stick with Roelof van der Merwe in place of Andre Russell as the Kotla wicket has a tendency to favour the spinners.
van der Merwe's inclusion will also keep the other left-arm spinner Shabaz Nadeem out of the side. Morne Morkel, although without a wicket in Chennai, is still very much the leader of their attack. The duo of Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron has bowled with venom too, giving Delhi the balance in their bowling attack.
So knowing the strengths of both the teams and considering what’s at stake, a cracker of game is on the cards.
Kings XI Punjab: 1 Nitin Saini (wk), 2 Mandeep Singh, 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 David Hussey (capt), 5 Azhar Mahmood, 6 Siddharth Chitnis/Abhishek Nayar, 7 Gurkeerat Singh 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Ryan Harris, 10 Praveen Kumar, 11 Parvinder Awana
Delhi Daredevils: 1 David Warner, 2 Virender Sehwag (capt), 3 Naman Ojha (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Venugopal Rao, 6 Yogesh Nagar, 7 Irfan Pathan, 8 Roelof van der Merwe 9 Morne Morkel, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Varun Aaron