Match 4 IPL 2017 (2017-04-08) @ Indore (HCS)
Last season Kings XI Punjab finished bottom with Pune just above them in 7th place. It was one win a piece in the matches between the two sides.
Pune got off to a winning start against Mumbai on Thursday thanks to a superb innings from new captain Steve Smith. They took a gamble by playing both Tahir and Zampa in the absence their Indian spinner, Ashwin. Leaving out both de Plessis and Khawaja means that their batting was weakened.
Kings XI Punjab will be playing their first match. They have decided to make Glenn Maxwell their new captain. I would have preferred to see the inspirational Darren Sammy be given the role after his recent success leading Peshawar Zalmi to the Pakistan Super League title.
Punjab will miss their star opener Murali Vijay who top scored for them last season with 453 runs. Their batting will still be strong with a host of in form international stars available.
Their bowling will be heavily reliant on Indian bowlers. Matt Henry is the only specialist overseas bowler in their squad.
The Indore pitch has only hosted two IPL matches. Both were back in 2011 when scores of 178 and 97 were chased down. Given the potential strength of the batting of both teams compared to their bowling chasing will probably be an advantage.
Pune's opening win means they are rightly favorites for this fixture. But the odds of 1.75 currently on offer on Betfair are very skinny. I prefer to back KXIP for an upset at 2.28 on the exchange due to their strong batting line up.
For their first match we can only speculate as to how KXIP might line up.
In the absence of Vijay KXIP should open with Vohra and Maxwell. Vohra scored 161 runs last season at a strike rate of 123. Maxwell only scored 179 runs in the 11 matches he played in but has been in form with a 100 in the third Test against India. He can be destructive with a strike rate of 157 in T20 league matches since 2014.
Other opening options for future matches include the currently injured Guptill and Amla. Wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha could come in at 3. He got 270 runs in 12 innings last season.
Eoin Morgan and David Miller have both been in good form recently. Morgan has produced runs for Sydney Thunder, Peshawar and England. Miller scored a 120 off 61 balls for the Titans against the Knights in the CSA T20 and two other centuries in One-Day cricket for South Africa.
At 6 the options are Stonis and Sammy if Matt Henry does not play. As Sammy is not the captain, Stonis would be first choice. He scored 146 in 5 matches last IPL at a decent strike rate of 135. He scored 146 and 42 in Febuary for Australia's One-Day side in New Zealand.
Spinner Axel Patel can then come in at 7 before the tail. He scored 111 useful runs down the order last season at a rate of 144.
Punjab's bowling could be their weak link again this season. They have lost Mitchell Johnson and Kyle Abbot and gain Matt Henry. Henry's T20 record is not very impressive with an economy rate of 9 in 6 matches for New Zealand.
In the spin department they will rely again on Axar Patel who got 13 wickets last season with an economy rate of 8.2. Patel will be backed up by Glenn Maxwell and KC Cariappa.
The pace attack contains Sandeep Sharma and Mohit Sharma. Sandeep took 15 wickets at an economy rate of 7.3 in IPL9 and Mohit took 13 wickets at 8.5. Stonis took a useful 8 wickets last season with an economy of 8.43. He recently put in some useful performances for the Melbourne Stars.
The final member of the seam attack may be exciting newcomer Natarajan. It will the left-arm medium pacer's first IPL.
Pune's team selection against Mumbai leaving out an overseas opener was surprising. It allowed both Zampa and Tahir to play. Ultimately the gamble paid off due to Rahane scoring 60 at the top and Smith's brilliant 84 from 54 balls.
Questions remain as to whether this is the right policy. Agarwal, Stokes and Dhoni all underperformed. Agarwal fell for 6 and Stokes managed 21.
Number 4 seems too high in the order for Stokes. Dhoni played a strange innings and relied on Smith to score the winning runs. Tiwary was not required but had a couple more wickets gone down RPS's long tail would have been exposed.
The inform de Plessis is on the sidelines ready to play as and when the batting line up needs strengthening. Although it seems unlikely RPS will change a winning side.
It was the introduction of Tahir in the 5th over against Mumbai that broke the opening partnership that had scored 45 runs in 4.1 overs. In the 7th over he took two further wickets. Many had doubted he would be in the starting 11 but the decision to play him instead of the extra overseas batsman paid off.
Zampa also picked up a wicket for the spin duo. His economy rate was 8.7 compared to Tahir's 7. Both should play again.
Rajat Bhatia impressed with the 2 for 14 off his three overs. Stokes chipped in with 1 wicket but was rather expensive going at 9 an over. He did bowl a decent 19th over conceding just 3 runs in the first 5 balls before Southee smashed him for a 6 off the last ball.
The real concern for RPS is Ashok Dinda. He allowed Mumbai to get off to a flyer conceding 20 off his first 2 overs at the top of the innings. He was then smashed for a record 30 runs off the final over. Without Smith's heroics with the bat it would have cost them the match.
Last season Dinda took 11 wickets with an economy rate of 7.62. Without an obvious replacement to bowl with the new ball and at the death he should get another chance. Pune should stick with the team that won their opener.
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