Kings XI Punjab, the first team to seal a place in the Playoffs, take on defending champions Mumbai Indians in Match 48 of Pepsi IPL 2014.
Kings XI Punjab will now want to win for two reasons: They say winning is a habit, and KXIP will want to develop that habit. And secondly, the team now needs to finish among the top two, so they will get a second dash at qualifying for the title clash – if the need arises.
MI’s win over the Rajasthan Royals on Monday means they are barely alive in the race for the Playoffs. With two Playoff spots still open and five teams competing for them, MI cannot afford another subpar day on the field.
A run of four victories have lifted Kolkata Knight Riders to a decent position amid the mad scramble for the final playoff spot and similar success over Chennai Super Kings, who are almost assured of progress, would bolster their case immensely.
Chasing has become Knight Riders’ strength since reworking their personnel and batting order. It might well be their preferred route forward in the wake of Super Kings’ relentless batting line-up, tying them down at Eden Gardens with their assortment of spinners. There are indications that it might work: Suresh Raina stumbled to a half-century and his team-mates could not decipher a slow turner in Ranchi and lost “10 runs if not more” in the death according to MS Dhoni.
With another 10-odd games left in the league stages of the IPL, Kolkata Knight Riders have their noses ahead by a proverbial inch but Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad are also in with a chance of finishing in the top four, although the latter will need a little help from the other teams.
With five wins from 11 games, Royal Challengers need to win all their remaining matches and hope that Sunrisers can beat Knight Riders in their next match to smoothen the route to the playoffs. For Sunrisers, a loss to Royal Challengers will draw the curtains on their chances of a playoff spot. If Sunrisers win, they need to keep that form going for the rest of their games and hope for other teams to fail in order to boost their chances.
The Delhi Daredevils have one last chance of giving their home fans something to cheer about when they take on Kings XI Punjab in Match 45 of Pepsi IPL 2014.
It has been a largely forgettable season for Kevin Pietersen’s team. With just two wins in 11 matches so far, DD are out of contention from making it to the Playoffs. In their most recent outing, they were decimated by the Rajasthan Royals, who posted 201 runs and then cantered to a 62-run victory. It is not that DD do not have the batting riches – they have plenty of proven and experienced players in the line-up – but unfortunately they have not fallen in place as well as they would have liked.
Kings XI Punjab, meanwhile, are having their best season in the IPL. They have won 80 percent of their matches and will now aim to be among the top two teams at the end of the league phase. The team has won most of their eight matches this season riding on the prowess of their batsmen; while all the focus has been on Glenn Maxwell, several others – Virender Sehwag, Wriddhiman Saha, David Miller, George Bailey and most recently Manan Vohra –have played their parts too. Even the bowling attack has looked menacing, with Sandeep Sharma spearheading the attack ahead of Mitchell Johnson, and the likes of L Balaji, Rishi Dhawan and Akshar Patel have complemented him almost every time.
The Rajasthan Royals play their final home match of the season when they take on the Mumbai Indians in Match 44 of Pepsi IPL 2014.
RR, with 14 points from 11 matches, have a foot in the Playoffs and a win in this contest will only firm up their position among the top four teams. The defending champions, Mumbai Indians, have won only three of their 10 matches so far and need to win every single match from here on to give themselves an opportunity of making it to the Playoffs.
KKR, with 10 points from as many matches, are slightly better off then their opponents who have eight points from 10 matches. Both teams still have a chance to make the Playoffs, and the two points from this match will make that journey slightly easier.
SRH will certainly be the team feeling the heat heading into this contest. They are not only lagging on points, they are also under pressure from losing their last two matches – both in their own backyard where they were expected to do well. KKR, with three consecutive wins behind them, will look to firm up their position in the standings.