Bulls begin their battle for redemption
With the battle for the top four positions depending on every point earned from now on, Kings XI Punjab will fancy their chances against the Deccan Chargers at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Sunday to remain in contention for the playoffs stage. Chargers, who have been unlucky in losing many close games in their campaign so far, would like to lay claim on the match given the hosts’ unfavourable record at home, managing to win only one out of five matches here so far.
With the possibility making the cut for the top four out of the equation, the Chargers may be able to play with less pressure. They may attempt to do the spadework for the next season with possibly some new combinations. Some handy wins in their last three matches of the season may provide a perfect signoff to a team that promised so much at the beginning of the league.
The team will look up to Delhi boy Shikhar Dhawan, who has been the most consistent performer for the Bulls with four half centuries to his credit. Cameron White, with an equal number of fifties, didn’t begin the season with runs that match his abilities but the Aussie has slowly come into his own in the last five games missing only once with the bat.
While Chargers’ batsmen have racked up decent totals so far, their bowling and fielding have proved to be the weak link which can be deduced from the fact that on three occasions their opposing teams have chased down a total in excess of 180. Dale Steyn, who did not feature in the last game against the same opposition which they lost, has been brilliant at times but has also been taken out for runs. The other bowlers have not been able to provide the support and more often than not led to Chargers’ downfall.
The Punjab team on the other hand has been led brilliantly by Australia’s David Hussey in absence of compatriot and still unavailable Adam Gilchrist and they will all be well aware that this is the best time to rise to the occasion and be counted among the favourites.
The best thing to have happened for the hosts in their last four games, out of which they have won three, is the rise of Mandeep Singh.
Deccan Chargers: Shikhar Dhawan
The most positive thing to have emerged from the Deccan camp this season is the consistent performance of Shikhar Dhawan.
The Delhi boy would not want to let it slip now and would be charged up to keep the intensity going, especially now, when his team need some morale boosting wins. A naturally attacking player, Dhawan is at ease with the format and seems to have rediscovered himself with a slew of consistent scores.
Kings XI Punjab: Mandeep Singh
To stand among and be counted among the likes of Shaun Marsh, David Hussey and Azhar Mahmood isn't an easy task but Kings batsman Mandeep Singh seems to have put the foot on the pedal just at the right time for his team.
The leading run scorer for Kings ahead of his more illustrious and experienced teammates, the 20-year-old, will possibly hold the key with the bat for his team's fortunes to make it to the playoffs.
On approach to this game: Since we are out in reckoning for the playoffs, it's important for us to focus and win. Hopefully we will be able to play good cricket.
On reasons for the dismal campaign: Many times in the season, we have put good totals on the board but failed to defend it. We have been let down by crucial moments either in fielding or the bowling. But we have learnt our lesson.
On luck playing a part: It's not only about luck. The hard work also counts because the harder you work, the better you do.
On giving chance to fringe players: There are a lot of Indian players who have been given a chance and have done well this season. We also have some talented youngsters and we will back them strongly. We may try to play some younger players tomorrow.
On must win game situation: I don't know if it is must win game for but at the moment it's all very tight for the playoffs.
On additional pressure in this game: No, nothing as such. We have got the intensity going throughout and would keep it going tomorrow also.
On being in contention for playoffs: It's nice to be in the picture for the next stage but also nice to know that we are not relying on other teams results to progress.
On unfavourable home record: Tomorrow, it's going to be a fresh start at home.