Kings XI Punjab, Kolkata Knight Riders in uphill battle for the playoffs

Previous meeting

Russell walloped five sixes and three fours in a 17-ball 48 to give Knight Riders 218 for 4. Kings XI Punjab challenged the chase at different stages but didn’t have enough firepower to cross the line. David Miller’s 59 not out merely reduced the margin of defeat.

Likely XIs

Kings XI Punjab: 1 KL Rahul, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Mayank Agarwal, 4 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 5 David Miller, 6 Mandeep Singh, 7 R Ashwin (capt), 8 M Ashwin, 9 Ankit Rajpoot, 10 Arshdeep Singh, 11 Mohammed Shami

Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Chris Lynn, 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Andre Russell, 4 Robin Uthappa, 5 Dinesh Karthik (capt, wk), 6 Nitish Rana, 7 Sunil Narine, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Harry Gurney, 10 Sandeep Warrier, 11 Prasidh Krishna

Strategy punt

Russell can seamlessly switch to six-hitting at the death – he has the second-best strike rate (249) and has scored the most runs (351) in overs 16 to 20. How do Kings XI prevent him from getting there? Perhaps their captain Ashwin, who likes to bowl with the new ball, may want to hold himself back a bit as Russell’s strike rate against the carrom ball is a modest 97.1 across 35 balls.

Kings XI have to not just win but try and improve their net run-rate too. Gayle will be aware of this. So how do they keep him quiet? Maybe Knight Riders could unleash his West Indies mate Sunil Narine upfront? Gayle’s strike rate against offspin this season is a low 73.1 across 26 deliveries, with a dot-ball percentage of 50.

Now that Gill has shown promise at the top of the order, Knight Riders may want to resist the temptation to open with Narine. Two of Gill’s three half-centuries this season have come while opening. He also strikes better (158) here than anywhere else in the order, and manages a boundary every 4.7 deliveries; the corresponding numbers at No. 3 and No. 5 stand at 15 and 13.5 respectively.Stats that matter

Russell is 58 away from 5000 T20 runs. If he gets there, he would have done so in exactly 300 T20s.

Knight Riders’ pace bowlers have taken the fewest number of wickets in the competition (22). They are also the second-most expensive pace-bowling unit (economy of 9.5), behind only to Kings XI (9.6).

Kings XI’s win percentage is a lowly 16.7 when Gayle scores less than 30.