Kings XI Punjab\'s M-factor will be the biggest challenge facing the Kolkata Knight Riders when they battle the most awe-inspiring outfit so far in IPL 7.
Kings XI Punjab's M-factor will be the biggest challenge facing the Kolkata Knight Riders when they battle the most awe-inspiring outfit so far in IPL 7, Punjab, in Dubai on Saturday.
Glenn Maxwell and David Miller have virtually been an unstoppable force in Season 7 of the league, with both, especially Maxwell, playing key roles in Punjab's all-win record so far - which saw them overhauling Chennai Super Kings' 205 and Rajasthan Royals' 191 before an equally impressive win against Sunrisers Hyderabad by 72 runs.
Wearing the Orange Cap with 279 runs scored at an intimidating average of 93 and strike rate above 200, including 17 sixes and 28 fours, Maxwell has become the most priced wicket to take.
On the other hand, Miller has taken over every time Maxwell left the crease. The South African has been dismissed just once in three games, having scored 115 runs at a strike rate of 174, with his 19-ball 51* against Rajasthan being the most impressive.
Of course, there will be Virender Sehwag batting ahead of the two M's, and during his 30 against Hyderabad in the last match, he showed top form is not far.
Meanwhile, Punjab's bowling has been led by Lakshmipathy Balaji with his 6 wickets making him the joint leader in the wicket-taking chart. Mitchell Johnson too came into his own against Hyderabad taking 2 for 26, overcoming his twin failures in the first two games.
Coming back to Punjab's big-hitters, they will be up against a quality bowling side led by West Indies' mystery spinner Sunil Narine who, with six wickets and a best of 4 for 20 with an economy rate of under five, remains the biggest challenge facing Sehwag, Maxwell, Miller and the others.
The biggest worry for KKR is the form of Gautam Gambhir, who has got off to a horror start this season with three consecutive ducks. Coach WV Raman may say that the KKR skipper is not far from hitting form, but these are surely worrying signs for the franchise with their captain and star batsman still looking to open his account after three games.
Manish Pandey (117 runs) and the legendary Jacques Kallis (115 runs) have been the two most impressive batsmen for KKR, and the team will look up to them once again for health contributions, especially considering the batting form of Punjab.
Allrounder Kallis may also be critical to Kolkata's chances of controlling Maxwell and Miller with his wealth of bowling experience to go with his batting.