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Form favours Kings XI Punjab

Sharjah: Their campaign off to a flier, both Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals would be hoping to outsmart each other when they clash here Sunday.

While Kings XI Punjab pulled off a sensational six-wicket win over the formidable Chennai Super Kings in a high-scoring match in Abu Dhabi Friday, the Royals notched up a comfortable four-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad later in the day.

Come Sunday, both the teams would be aiming to carry on their winning momentum ahead in the tournament. However, on paper Kings XI Punjab will start as favourites against the Royals.

Kings XI Punjab’s team composition underwent a substantial overhaul this year. Led by George Bailey, they pulled off quite a masterstroke by snapping up India Test discard Virender Sehwag. Though he is no longer in his prime, on his day the Delhi-dasher is still an enthralling game-changer capable of humiliating opposition attacks.

In Cheteshwar Pujara, hard-hitting Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and Bailey, Kings XI boast of a formidable batting line-up, the effect of which was visible in their opener.

Chasing a mammoth 206-run target, Kings XI rode on a blazing 115-run stand between Miller and Maxwell to steal the scintillating win over Chennai Super Kings.

Maxwell hammered 95 off 43 balls while Miller made an unbeaten 54 off 37 to propel their team past Chennai Super Kings’ imposing 205 for four with seven balls to spare. Kings XI Punjab would be looking for an encore from its batting department.

However, bowling would be a cause of concern for Kings XI Punjab going into their next game. Almost all their bowlers went for runs against the Chennai Super Kings. But Bailey would be hoping for a much-improved show from the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Laxmipathy Balaji, Rishi Dhawan and Parvinder Awana.

The Royals, on the other hand, were clinical in their bowling performance against the Sunrisers.

Dhawal Kulkarni (2/23), Kane Richardson (2/25) and Rajat Bhatia (2/22) and Pravin Tambe (0/23) bowled economical spells to restrict the Sunrisers to 133 for six.

On the batting front, however, the Royals have some work to do as only two of their batsmen — Ajinkya Rahane (59) and Stuart Binny (48 not out) — managed double digit scores while chasing the modest score.

The Royals’ batting would be looking for inspiration from the legendary Rahul Dravid, who is donning the hat of a mentor this time around.