With Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals having already sealed their spot in the play-offs and Mumbai just a win away, the contest for the last place is gathering a lot of steam. KXIP and KKR have had similar journeys in this season so far. KKR won four of their first five matches before conceding six matches in a row.
KKR returned to form with a victory over Mumbai Indians in their last match, thus keeping their hopes of qualifying alive. However, it is clear that they need to win both their remaining games to have an outside chance of qualifying. KKR would elated with the way Shubman Gill (75), Chris Lynn (54) and Andre Russell (80 not out) bludgeoned the Mumbai attack to take the team to a convincing win.
Russell has been brilliant this season with 486 runs at a stunning strike rate of 207. They would though expect better from the likes of experienced Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla.
While KKR have snapped their losing streak, KXIP have now lost three in a row. They also have a negative run rate to compound their problems. KL Rahul and Chris Gayle have done well with 520 and 448 runs respectively. However, the likes of Mayank Agarwal and David Miller will have to do much better for Punjab in the middle order.
Punjab's bowling is basically built around captain Ravichandran Ashwin and pacer Mohammed Shami. But, they will certainly have to look beyond that if they want to progress further in the tournament.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (capt/wk), Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Nikhil Naik, Joe Denly, Shrikant Mundhe, Nitish Rana, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Harry Gurney, Matt Kelly, KC Cariappa, Yarra Prithviraj.
Kings XI Punjab: Ravichandran Ashwin (capt), K L Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Andrew Tye, Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rehman, Sam Curran, Karun Nair, Moises Henriques, Varun Chakravarthi, Harpreet Brar, Simran Singh (wk), Nicholas Pooran, Hardus Viljoen, Ankit Rajpoot, Arshdeep Singh, Darshan Nalkande, Agnivesh Ayachi.
--By A Cricket Correspondent