Visakhapatnam: Their pride bruised following disastrous campaigns, Kings XI Punjab and Rising Pune Supergiants will look for a graceful exit from the ninth edition of the IPL when they square off against each other for one last time, in Vishakhapatnam on Saturday.
Supergiants are coming into the contest after a victory over Delhi Daredevils at the same venue, their home ground, while Punjab have lost their last two outings -- against RCB and table-toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Punjab's fourth and last win this season had come at this very ground, when they had got the better of Mumbai Indians.
To make an early exit from this tournament is a completely different zone for Supergiants skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has excelled as a leader in all the previous editions. But never before has he been saddled with the kind of injury crisis that he dealt with this year.
The debutantes had hoped for better results after packing their squad with star performers such as Kevin Pietersen, Steve Smith, Faf du Plessis and Mitchell Marsh apart from handing the reins of the team to charismatic Dhoni.
However, none of the overseas players could last the length of the tournament, exiting on account of injuries.
There was little Dhoni could do given the acute scarcity of resources he faced.
For Punjab, it was a repeat of the previous seasons.
Neither a change in captaincy nor the late addition of a overseas players could lift the team.
They continued to be laggards, lacking enough firepower and impact players to trigger a turnaround of fortunes. Adding to their woes was reports that there was a tiff between the team management and the owners.
Punjab have certainly missed quality players in their ranks and non-performance of the big-hitting David Miller has affected them badly.
Losing Glenn Maxwell and Shaun Marsh, among their most consistent players, added to the problems.
Now that they will take field for the last time this season, knowing that they have nothing to lose, going out of the event with a win is what both the teams would be hoping for.
KXIP: Murali Vijay (C), Hashim Amla, David Miller, Wriddhiman Saha, Gurkeerat Mann, Axar Patel, Marcus Stoinis, Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Anureet Singh, Manan Vohra, Shardul Thakur, Nikhil Naik, Mitchell Johnson, KC Cariappa, Farhan Behardien, Arman Jaffer, Kyle Abbott, Pardeep Sahu, Swapnil Singh, Mitchell Johnson.
Rising Pune Supergiants: MS Dhoni (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Usman Khawaja, George Bailey, Ravichandran Ashwin, Saurabh Tiwary, Thisara Perera, Rajat Bhatia, Adam Zampa, Ashok Dinda, RP Singh, Murugan Ashwin, Baba Aparajith, Ankiit Sharma, Ankush Bains, Deepak Chahar, Scott Boland, Peter Handscomb, Jaskaran Singh, Albie Morkel, Ishwar Pandey, Irfan Pathan and Ishant Sharma.
Match starts 8pm IST.
Published Date: May 21, 2016 10:48 am | Updated Date: May 21, 2016 10:53 am