The last time Punjab Kings, then called Kings XI Punjab, made the playoffs was in 2014, where they lost to KKR in the final.
Since 2015, they have won seven group games out of 14 only twice. The Kings are still in the race for the playoffs this season but they have plenty to do to advance from eighth position. They can get to 16 points if they win their final two league games, but will also have to improve their net run rate which is -0.268.
On Wednesday they take on Delhi Capitals, moving from their home base of Mohali to Dharamsala. The Capitals, who became the first team to bow out of the race to the playoffs, now have an opportunity to play party-poopers in their last two matches.
Shikhar Dhawan’s team will enter the match with a lot of confidence, having beaten the same side by 31 runs a few days ago. Prabhsimran Singh and Harpreet Brar were the chief architects but they will also expect the seasoned stars in their line-up, like Liam Livingstone, to step up at a crucial juncture in this IPL.
Prabhsimran had scored a century in their last meeting while Brar got a four-wicket haul.
On the bowling front, the Kings have taken the fewest wickets this season.
Kagiso Rabada and Sam Curran haven’t been in prime form while Arshdeep Singh has been expensive, but Harpreet Brar, Nathan Ellis and Rahul Chahar have been consistent.
Rabada last featured for the Kings on April 30 and has missed three matches since. Batting coach Wasim Jaffer said his exclusion had to do with Ellis’s death bowling skills but the South African pacer could be back on Wednesday considering the pace and bounce of the Dharamsala wicket.
Rabada has dismissed David Warner thrice in the IPL and could be an effective option for the Kings.
Ishant Sharma, on the other hand, could be an effective match-up against Dhawan and Livingstone, having dismissed them twice each.
■ Punjab Kings vs Delhi Capitals, 7.30pm, Dharamsala, live on Star Sports & Jio Cinema