Preview: Kings XI Punjab need to put up a strong show to bounce back from two successive defeats when they take on Rising Pune Supergiants in an Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket contest in Mohali on Sunday.
KXIP, who started their campaign at the Punjab Cricket Association's I.S. Bindra Stadium here against Gujarat Lions on Monday, crumbled to their second loss in as many games in an eight-wicket thrashing against Delhi Daredevils on Friday.
So far, they have failed to impress in every department. Against Delhi, they could only score 111 for nine, while in the match against Gujarat, they got off to a fine start thanks to Murali Vijay and Manan Vohra before the middle-order dropped its guard.
The main reason for their batting failure is due to the disappointing show from the mainstays -- David Miller and Glenn Maxwell. While South African Miller has scored 24 runs so far, Australian hard-hitter Maxwell has made two runs.
Their best batsman has been Vohra, who has 70 runs in two matches -- but the Punjabi right-hander doesn't have a game that can change the course of a match. His opening partner Vijay too hasn't shown the charisma. That's why it is important that both Miller and Maxwell fire.
"Out batting top-order needs to click to turn the things around in the coming matches. We have not been able to do that," Miller assessed after the match against Delhi.
Their bowling too, has been susceptible. Retired Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson is not the bowler he used to be, while young medium pacemen Mohit Sharma and Sandeep Sharma have been inconsistent.
Left-arm spinner Axar Patel has been Punjab's best bowler but he hasn't go support from the other end to make any kind of impact.
In this case, Miller may drop Australian left-handed batsman Shaun Marsh and bring in all-rounder Marcus Stoinis, who played the game against Lions, scoring 33 runs and picking a wicket.
Punjab's opposition, Pune too has been coming off a seven-wicket loss to Gujarat. Mahendra Singh Dhoni-captained Pune was impressive in its opening match but showed a lot of chinks in its armour in the second.
Gujarat opening batsmen Aaron Finch and Brendon McCullum tore apart Pune's bowling -- which should be a worry for Dhoni. Pacers R.P. Singh and Ishant Sharma have been inconsistent -- even though spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Murugan Ashwin have made amends for them. Gentle medium pacer Rajat Bhatia too has been impressive.
It will be interesting to see if Dhoni sticks with left-armer R.P. Madhya Pradesh seamer Ishwar Pandey and Irfan Pathan might get a look in, especially the Baroda left-armer as he also can contribute with the bat.
Otherwise, Pune's batting looks solid with the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Faf du Plessis, Kevin Pietersen and Steven Smith in their ranks. Dhoni is yet to decent chance to wield his bat, while Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh adds depth to the squad.