The erratic Kolkata Knight Riders will look to challenge the seemingly unstoppable force of table-toppers Kings XI Punjab when the two sides clash in an Indian Premier League match here on Sunday.
The last time the two sides faced off, it turned out to be a low-scoring affair but even in that Punjab came out trumps after doing the job well with the ball. But given the sparkling form the duo of Glenn Maxwell and David Miller are in, KKR bowlers are likely to be put to the sword in Sunday's game at the Barabati stadium. (KXIP and Their Big Four)
On paper, it looks a lop-sided contest given that Punjab have a batting line-up, which has been in marauding form. If Maxwell and Miller were not a big enough headache to deal with for rival teams, out-of-form veteran Virender Sehwag is also slowly rediscovering his touch. (Points Table | Schedule)
In fact, batting alone makes Punjab an intimidating side to take on and more so for KKR, a team struggling to find its feet even though the win over Delhi Daredevils in its previous match has come as a morale-booster.
For once, Kolkata's batting clicked with skipper Gautam Gambhir, who had been facing a barrage of criticism for poor form, leading the way with a half-century. (Blog: Can IPL ever breed loyalty?)
Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey also did their bits to take KKR to an elusive win over Delhi Daredevils and they would be keen to carry that form into the match against Punjab.
On the bowling front, KKR can draw some confidence from the fact that they managed to restrict Punjab's marauding batsmen the last time the two teams clashed against each other. Mystery spinner Sunil Narine would once again be their trump card.
Punjab, on the other hand, would be relying on batsmen to come good yet again and keep the pressure off bowlers, who, to their credit, have not done too badly.
Pacer Sandeep Sharma has been in consistent form and is currently third in the list of top wicket-takers this season after scalping 13 in six matches. After a slow start, even Australian import Mitchell Johnson is in decent form now.
Kings XI Punjab: George Bailey (C), David Miller, Manan Vohra, Virender Sehwag, Mitchell Johnson, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shaun Marsh, Wriddhiman Saha, Thisara Perera, Glenn Maxwell, Rishi Dhawan, Anureet Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Akshar Patel, Beuran Hendricks, Karanveer Singh, Murali Kartik, Shivam Sharma, Shardul Thakur, L Balaji, Parvinder Awana, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Mandeep Singh.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (c), Sunil Narine, Jacques Kallis, Robin Uthappa, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan, Umesh Yadav, Vinay Kumar, Morne Morkel, Piyush Chawla, Manish Pandey, Veer Pratap Singh, Chris Lynn, Andre Russell, SS Mandal, Pat Cummins, Debabrata Das, Suryakumar Yadav, Manvinder Bisla, Ryan ten Doeschate, Kuldeep Yadav.