Kolkata aim at top-two finish playing Punjab
On a high after sealing a playoffs berth, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) would aim for a top-two finish when they take on Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match here on Tuesday.
KKR bounced back in resounding fashion from their back-to-back defeats when they scripted a facile six-wicket win over hapless Royal Challengers Bangalore in Bengaluru on Sunday.
The Gautam Gambhir-led side are now at second spot in the league table with 16 points from 12 matches with the help of eight wins and they would look to consolidating their position with a win over Punjab, who suffered a six-wicket loss to Gujarat Lions on Sunday.
Chasing a modest 159 for victory, KKR raced to 105 for no loss in just six overs, for a record IPL powerplay total.
They achieved the target with 29 balls to spare on the back of Sunil Narine's (54 off 17 balls) record joint fastest IPL 50 — from 15 balls — and an equally aggressive knock from Chris Lynn (50 off 22 balls).
Robin Uthappa, out with a hamstring injury, is expected to return, as Piyush Chawla indicated on Sunday after the match. Bowlers Umesh Yadav, Chris Woakes and Narine will be tasked with the responsibility of getting the wickets with Ankit Rajpoot and Chawla also having the ability to support them.
Punjab, on the other hand, have a thin chance to make it to the knockouts as they have only five wins from 11 matches and are placed at the fifth spot with 10 points. They now need to win all their remaining three matches if they wish to have any chance of making it to the knock-out stage.
Their chances of a playoffs berth were dented by their six-wicket defeat at the hands of Gujarat Lions.
After posting 189/3, courtesy opener Hashim Amla's century, Punjab bowlers failed to restrict Gujarat Lions, who rode on a 39-ball 74 by their top batsman Dwayne Smith.
Amla has been their mainstay amassing 400-plus runs, which include two tons — against Mumbai Indians and Gujarat.
Besides Amla and Maxwell, they have batsmen of calibre like Martin Guptill, Shaun Marsh, Manan Vohra, Wriddhiman Saha and Axar Patel but they will need to fire in unison.