Punjab Kings will be up against Lucknow Super Giants for the first time this season. The battle will kick off tonight at MCA Stadium, Pune. Punjab Kings would be keen to put brakes on LSG skipper KL Rahul’s rip-roaring batting form and notch up a win. Currently, LSG is in the fourth spot, with five wins and three losses from eight games, while Punjab Kings are in sixth place, having four wins and as many losses.
Punjab’s balanced bowling attack, led by South African pacer Kagiso Rabada, would be keen to put the brakes on KL Rahul, who has been in sublime form. The likes of Arshdeep Singh, who has been so impressive in death overs, Rishi Dhawan, and Rahul Chahar, would need to answer serious questions at the MCA stadium, which has witnessed high-scoring thrillers. Leg-spinner Chahar would need to step up even more to help his team’s cause.
The Kings’ batting department is more reliable on opener Shikhar Dhawan, who is back among the runs. But the form of their skipper Mayank Agarwal is a cause of concern. He has blown hot and cold, having scored alone single fifty-plus runs this season. He would be keen to find consistency and provide a bright start at the top.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who played his part well against CSK, would be keen to put up another good show. One of the top-order batters will need to come good again to set the stage for power-hitters like Liam Livingstone and Jonny Bairstow.
On the other hand, LSG captain Rahul needs support from other batters, including his opening partner Quinton De Kock. The South African batter needs to fire at the top. LSG has depth in their batting with the experienced Manish Pandey, the hard-hitting Marcus Stoinis, reliable Deepak Hooda, and rookie Ayush Badoni. But all these have to perform well with consistency to secure a win.
LSG bowling department has also fared well, with Sri Lankan pacer Dushmantha Chameera and Janson Holder right on the money. The duo will need to continue with their good work to stop the attacking Punjab batting line-up. The eight overs of spin from Krunal Pandya and Ravi Bishnoi can also become crucial and change the fate of a match.
The pitch at the MCA Stadium helps batters initially but also assists spinners as the game progresses. Toss would be crucial as the team batting second has great records here. Considering the recent form and consistency, Punjab Kings is expected to win this match.