Mohali:A team that started out as a tournament favourite is suddenly looking down the barrel after three successive losses and the task does not get any easier for Kolkata Knight Riders when they take on an on-the-rise Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League on Saturday.
After two initial losses, the Yuvraj Singh-led Kings XI have been on a winning streak and continued to do well despite the exit of top Australian players like Simon Katich and pace spearhead Brett Lee from their team.
On the other hand, the Sourav Ganguly-led Knight Riders will be desperately looking for a win here to keep their chances in the tournament alive.
The Punjab team have the home advantage going for them with some of their top-order batsmen like Shaun Marsh, son of Aussie great Geoff Marsh who scored an unbeaten 85 against the Deccan Chargers, looking in terrific form.
Even the absence of Lee and Katich was not felt by the team after Marsh not just came good with the bat in the very first game he played against Chargers, but also saved a few runs with his agility on the field.
Yuvraj and Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara have been in ominous touch while Mahela Jayawardene has also struck form. Ramnaresh Sarwan's presence also lends assurance to the Punjab batting.
Despite Lee's exit, the Punjab bowling spearheaded by Irfan Pathan and S Sreesanth has done well. 19-year-old leg spinner Piyush Chawla has been economical.
Sreesanth seems to have put the "slapgate" with Harbhajan Singh behind him, and is picking up wickets consistently but his economy has left a lot to be desired.
Meanwhile, the Knight Riders seems to have been hampered by New Zealand wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum and Aussie Ricky Ponting's exit. The team would be hoping for better knocks from their replacements Salman Butt and Brad Hodge, who failed to impress in last night's loss to Rajasthan Royals.
Ganguly, who was finally among runs scoring 51 against the Royals, having made just 40 in his four games earlier, will have to play a big knock, anchoring the innings, in which he would need support from the likes of David Hussey.
In the bowling department, pacers Umar Gul and Ishant Sharma have been doing well and should find the bounce offered by Mohali track much to their liking.