Mohali: A controversy-laden first two games at their back, Kings XI Punjab will look to exploit familiar conditions in their first home match of the IPL when they take on Mumbai Indians on Saturday.
It has been a roller-coaster ride for KXIP, having to endure a controversy involving their captain Ravichandran Ashwin who 'Mankaded' Rajasthan Royals batsman Jos Buttler in their first match, an act which was legal but criticised by some as against the 'Spirit of Cricket'.
In their second game against Kolkata Knight Riders, Ashwin's team was penalised for not keeping four men in the 30-yard circle and Andre Russell made full use of the reprieve to take the game away from KXIP.
Ashwin and Co. will now look to forget all these unsavoury happenings of the first two games and start afresh in their first match at the PCA Stadium on Saturday.
With the tournament still in its early stages and the two teams having won a game each, the balance is not tilted in anyone's favour and the Saturday's tie is expected to be a keenly fought one.
The two rival sides boast of some star players in their line-up and each team will hope to its best when it matters.
KXIP, who are yet to win an IPL title, opened their campaign this season on a winning note against Rajasthan Royals. But, the match caught the headlines more for Ashwin's 'Mankading' of Buttler that triggered a dramatic collapse for the Royals. Kings XI eventually won by 14 runs.
That particular game also saw KXIP's opener Chris Gayle in prime form as he blasted 79 off just 47 balls while Sarfaraz Khan remained unbeaten on 46 off 29, giving the Ashwin-led side a boost in the batting department.
Against KKR, the KXIP lost by 28 runs after chasing a mammoth 219 for victory even though Mayank Aggarwal and David Miller impressed with their batting.
Andre Russell's sensational 17-ball 48 and Robin Uthappa's 67 not out and Nitish Rana's 63 left KXIP bowlers in a daze. Even the likes of Ashwin and speedster Mohammed Shami did not have an answer to KKR's blitzkrieg.
For KXIP, opener Lokesh Rahul is yet to hit his top form, managing just five runs from previous two outings, and he will be hoping to get back to his best in Mohali.
On the other hand, Mumbai Indians have come into this match, having notched up a 6-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore, with India pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah stamping his class.
For Mumbai, Rohit Sharma (48 of 33) and Hardik Pandya's 14-ball 32 stood out as they set up a target of 188 for RCB to chase.
Mumbai were almost blown away by AB de Villiers' 41-ball 70 not out, but the Rohit Sharma-led side won the match under controversial cicumstances with the umpires failing to call Lasith Malinga final delivery a no-ball which left India and RCB captain Virat Kohli seething in anger.
Bumrah impressed in the game against RCB, returning with figures of 4-0-20-3, something most bowlers will envy in this format of the game.
Yuvraj Singh, who started the season on a classy note by hitting a sublime half-century against Delhi Capitals and managing 23 against RCB, will be eager to make a mark in Mohali, which happens to be his 'home ground'.
Kings XI Punjab: Ravichandran Ashwin (capt), Chris Gayle, Lokesh Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Mayank Agrawal, Karun Nair, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and David Miller, Sam Curran, Varun Chakaravarthy, Nicholas Pooran, Moises Henriques, Hardus Viljoen, Darshan Nalkande, Sarfaraz Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Agnivesh Ayachi, Harpreet Brar, Murugan Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Ankit Rajpoot, Mandeep Singh, Simran Singh.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (capt), Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Rahul Chahar, Ben Cutting, Pankaj Jaiswal, Ishan Kishan, Siddhesh Lad, Evin Lewis, Mayank Markande, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Jason Behrendorff, Anukul Roy, Rasikh Salam, Anmolpreet Singh, Barinder Sran, Aditya Tare, Suryakumar Yadav, Jayant Yadav and Quinton de Kock.
The match will start at 4 pm and will be shown live on TV by Star Sports Network. The match can also be streamed live on Hotstar.
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Ashwin is regarded as a thinking cricketer who always strives to explore something new, something extra in his game and that attitude has paid rich dividends for him throughout his career.
"When it comes to finals we will give our best and we know that our team has the potential to do well and win the Championship," Pujara said.
Ashwin spoke about how WTC has provided a context to Test cricket and would love to see more traditional format games in neutral venues.