When the Kings XI Punjab’s newly appointed coach Virender Sehwag, the explosive former India batsman, walks into the Holkar Stadium, albeit as a non-player, he will instantly be nostalgic – his swashbuckling 219 came on this ground, the curator of which, Samandar Singh Chauhan, took great pride then for dishing out the kind of track he did. A similar track awaits the bowlers today, and if the still shorter boundaries are anything to go by, the cheerleaders are going to have a busy day ahead. What about the bowlers? Well, they just need to stand in a row and look with squinted eyes and they will spot a nightmare coming at them, from a distance because anything below 200 could be a below par score.
While the last season is already in the rear-view mirror, the ghosts from it might still be out there, haunting the Kings XI, for their performance in the last two Teams has been dismal. For a Team trying to bury the ghosts of the last season, Virender Sehwag could just be the right person to raise the spirits of a Team full of talent. Martin Guptill, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, Eoin Morgan, Hashim Amla and all-rounder Marcus Stoinis aggrandize the Punjab batting line-up. While all of them can obviously not feature in the same game, they yield Punjab just the right mix of options.
Ishant Sharma, who bowled brilliantly against the Aussies and Varun Aaron, a good fast bowling option, are the leading pacers. However, T. Natarajan, known for bowling tremendous yorkers, could be the surprise package for the Kings XI.
As far as RPS are concerned, they had an almost as bad a last season as Punjab, but they will surely go in the game in better frame of mind, having beaten Mumbai Indians day before yesterday in a thriller at Pune. It was the brilliance of first Ajinkya Rahane and then Steven Smith that handed them the win in the opening game.
Led by the newly appointed Steven Smith, the RPS will look to pick up from where they left in Pune. Rajat Bhatia and Imran Tahir bowled wonderfully, with Imran Tahir being the bowler of the match. Adam Zampa too got some purchase from the wicket. On a wicket with even pace, the RPS will try to push Tahir and Zampa, whose turn and flatter trajectory could help the Supergiants. Bhatia, with his unusually slow pace too could work. Dinda, who was smashed all over the park by Hardik Pandya in the last over of the innings, might have to pave way for Jaidev Unadkat, who with his left-arm medium pace will add variety to the attack.
All in all, we have a high-scoring game coming up. Brace yourselves, as huge-looking scintillating boundaries could be coming your way in the next half-an-hour. Remember, anything below 200 could be a below par score on this wicket. More after the game. And we have two coming in, today. At 8 pm, the Royal Challengers Bangalore face the Delhi Daredevils’s challenge at home.
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