Match 26 IPL 2017 (2017-04-23) @ Rajkot (SCAS)
These two teams won 1 match each in the head to heads last season. Both teams have 2 wins from 6 matches this season and need a win to jump up the points table.
The Lions are coming off a win against KKR where they successfully chased down 187. They have been poor this season setting totals and losing 2 from 2 when batting first. Batting second they have managed to win 2 from 3.
The Lion's batting is in good shape with Raina and McCullum both in top form. They need to find the right balance in deciding how many overseas batsmen and bowlers to use.
Punjab started the season well with 2 wins from their first 2 matches. The bowlers restricted the opposition and the batsmen easily chased down the runs. It looked like they were set for new era under Glen Maxwell.
Since then they have lost 4 matches in a row. They lost 2 matches batting second and 2 matches batting first. They have not found their best batting line up and apart from Maxwell and the openers, all the players are out of form. Their spin bowling is economical but that seam bowling is very expensive.
The Lions have a Cricsq rating 8 points over KXIP. They are playing at home and deserve to be favorites. They are 1.84 at the time of writing on Betfair. This is a fair price but represents no value to back.
6 of the 8 IPL matches played at Rajkot have been won by the team batting second. Of the 3 matches this season, only the 213 scored by RCB batting first was enough to win the match.
Both teams have stronger batting than bowling and have a better record chasing. I am going to wait for the toss and take advantage of the pitch basis and back the team that bats second to win.
Brendon McCullum has opened the batting in all 6 matches this season for the Lions. He is their top run scorer with 258 runs, with a strike rate of 151. They have tried 3 overseas players to partner McCullum.
Aaron Finch has scored 101 runs at a rate of 163. He opened in the Lions last match where they beat KKR. Finch got the team off to a good start scoring 31 off 15 balls. Dwayne Smith has opened several times and batted down the order as well. He has 90 runs at a rate of 134.
Jason Roy has only been given 3 matches with 2 chances to open. He has 59 runs at a rate of 147. If the Lions decide to play 3 overseas batsmen Roy should get the chance ahead of Smith.
Suresh Raina has 243 runs with a strike rate of 148. He scored a brilliant 84 off 46 balls to help win the match against KKR. Dinesh Karthik started well but his form has dropped off in the last couple of matches. He has 132 runs.
Ishan Kishan has been given 3 matches and scored 54 runs. James Faulkner was introduced against KKR. He batted very low at 8 and scored 4 off 2 balls at the end. He could bat as high as 6 or 7 if the Lions decide to play just 2 overs batsmen and bring back Andrew Tye to bowl.
Andrew Tye was introduced to the side after they lost their first 2 matches. He has balled well with an economy rate of 7.1 and is the Lions top wicket taker with 7. Faulkner played his first match against KKR. He took 1 for 38 off his 4 overs.
The seamers Praveen Kumar and Basil Thampi have been the best Indian bowlers. Kumar has 4 wickets with an economy rate of 10.5. Thampi has 2 wickets going at 8.9 an over. Another option is Dhawal Kulkarni but he has been going at 11.3 an over.
The Lions spinners have been expensive. Ravindra Jadeja has gone at 10.1 an over and Shivil Kaushik has conceded 9.6 an over. Raina has bowled himself for a few overs and gone at 8.8 an over.
KXIP have a very strong batting line up on paper but it is yet to win them many matches. Amla is their top scorer on 234 runs. He scored a brilliant 100 against Mumbai. That day his usual opening partner was ill. Marsh replaced Manan Vohra. Marsh scored 26 off 21 balls but Vohra will be back. Vohra almost got his team home against the Sunrisers with 95 off 50 balls.
Maxwell is the third top run scorer in the team. He has 162 runs at a rate of 184. He has yet to settle to a fixed spot in the order. I think he should bat at 3 to face as many balls as possible.
KXIP have options of David Miller, Eoin Morgan, Marsh and Stoinis as overseas players. Miller and Morgan have both scored runs at less than a run a ball. Marsh looked in good touch against Mumbai so could be picked to play in the middle order. The option is then to either try Morgan again or play Stoinis as the all-rounder.
Saha has been disappointing all scoring 56 runs in 5 innings. Axar Patel has 88 runs from 6 innings. They both have low strike rates around the 120 mark.
Overall the KXIP is full of class players but apart from glimpses of brilliance from Maxwell and the openers they are yet to fulfil their potential.
KXIP's bowling attack is based around Indian players.
Axar Patel has been their best bowler taking 7 wickets at 7.32 an over. KC Cariappa is their second spinner. He has gone at 8.7 an over with 2 wickets.
All their seam bowlers have been expensive. Sandeep Sharma is their top wicket taker with 5. He has gone for 9.2 an over. Varun Aaron has 5 wickets in just 3 matches. His economy rate is 8.9 an over.
Mohit Sharma has 4 wickets at 9.5 an over and Ishant Sharma is wicketless going at 12.5 an over. Stoinis has 2 wickets going at 10.5 an over.
KXIP are out of options with their seam attack. They will be hoping they can bowl more accurately and get their economy rates down.
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