Kolkata Knight Riders will be hosting Kings XI Punjab at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday. Both teams will be aiming to continue their winning momentum and add two more points in their tally. The Knight Riders had pulled off a stunning win over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday and Kings XI Punjab got the better of Rajasthan Royals by 14 runs on Monday. While KKR will be banking on home advantage for their second straight win, Punjab, on the other hand, will be eyeing yet another away win.
As the 2014 finalists lock horns with each other at the iconic Eden Gardens, there are certain things to look forward to.
Can Ashwin overcome the 'Mankading' saga?: Kings XI Punjab skipper Ravichandran Ashwin has grabbed the headlines for wrong reasons. He ended up 'Mankading' a well-set Jos Buttler on Monday who was anchoring the Rajasthan run chase with a splendid knock of a 43-ball 69. The incident took place in the 13th over when Ashwin dislodged the bails at the non-striker's end when he saw Buttler walk down the pitch. He appealed for a run out and the decision went in his favour. He received a lot criticisms from the legends of the game as well as the netizens for his actions. He will be taking the field hardly 48 hours after this incident and will be looking to focus on his game as well as captaincy.
The 'Gayle Storm': The charismatic West Indian opening batsman can never be kept out of action. Gayle became the fastest batsman to amass 4,000 runs in IPL history in the last game against Rajasthan Royals where he had scored a quickfire 47-ball 79 which included eight fours and two sixes at a strike rate of 168.09. The 'Universe Boss' also registered his 25th half-century in the process. He will be hoping to play another impactful innings on Wednesday.
'Russell Muscle': Gayle will have a tough competitor in the form of Andre Russell. The big West-Indian all-rounder helped KKR snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against Sunrisers Hyderabad by six wickets with his splendid knock of a 19-ball 49 at a strike rate of 257.89 which included four fours and four sixes. He added 65 runs for the fifth wicket with young Shubman Gill (18) to take KKR past the finish line.
Head-to-head records: Kolkata Knight Riders have an advantage over Kings XI Punjab in terms of overall head-to-head records with KKR winning 15 games and Punjab registering eight wickets in the 23 matches played between the two sides. Kolkata had also beaten Punjab in the 2014 final for their second IPL title. The Knights also enjoy a home advantage over KXIP with a 7-3 victory margin.
The KL Rahul factor: KL Rahul is one of Punjab's most important weapons. He was roped in by the Punjab franchise last year where he had an outstanding season as he amassed 659 runs in 14 matches at a strike rate of 158.41 which included six half-centuries. Even though he failed to make an impact with the bat against Rajasthan Royals on Monday, he made up for it on the field by taking an outstanding catch in the deep to dismiss Steve Smith which shifted the momentum in Punjab's favour.