David Miller can really turn things around for Punjab. (BCCI)
Mohali: Kings XI Punjab host Rajasthan Royals in a very important IPL 6 tie at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium here on Thursday. Punjab, who have won five of their 11 encounters so far, need at least three wins out of their remaining five encounters to have a realistic chance for the play-offs.
David Hussey's men must be worried as Rajasthan has gone from strength to strength this season. Having won eight of their 12 matches, Rajasthan will aim to finish on 20 points to secure a place in the play-offs.
Punjab sure face an uphill task but what gives them hope is a gentleman by the name of David Miller. The South African mesmerised one of the tournament favourites Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday night scoring 101* off 38 balls as Punjab chased down a mammoth 191 with two overs to go. Punjab needed that win badly to put their campaign back on track following three straight losses.
Rajasthan too have reasons to be buoyed: in their last two matches they have been just too good. They chased down 179 against Pune Warriors India and in their last match on Tuesday they made Delhi Daredevils look really mediocre as they got to their target of 155 on a trot with 13 balls to go.
Rajasthan's batting is on cloud nine right now. Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane are on the top of their game. Shane Watson and Stuart Binny too have been among the runs. Bowling-wise too, they are no less impressive with James Faulkner, Siddharth Trivedi, Watson consistently chipping away at the opposition's batting.
When all is said and done, it looks to be a cracker of a match and it is impossible to predict the winner purely on the basis of both teams' recent form. As far as overall head-to-head is concerned, Rajasthan run away with a 7-3 lead. Though, the piece of information that really encourages Punjab is that they haven't lost their last three games at home.
As far as team composition is concerned, Rajasthan may sit out the out-of-form Shaun Tait in favour of Kevon Cooper, while Punjab are likely to call back Azhar Mahmood in place of Michael Neser, who had a horrible outing against Bangalore giving 62 runs in four overs.
Kings XI Punjab: 1 Mandeep Singh, 2 Shaun Marsh, 3 Gurkeerat Singh (wk), 4 David Hussey (capt), 5 David Miller, 6 R Sathish 7 Azhar Mahmood, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 MS Gony, 11 Parvinder Awana
Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid (capt), 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Shane Watson, 4 Sanju Samson (wk), 5 Stuart Binny, 6 Brad Hodge, 7 Sachin Baby, 8 James Faulkner, 9 Kevon Cooper, 10 Siddharth Trivedi, 11 Pravin Tambe