Dubai: The nail-biting win over defending champions Mumbai Indians was certainly a morale-lifter but the inconsistent Kings XI Punjab have another tough battle at hand when they take on table leaders Delhi Capitals in an IPL match on Tuesday.
Having lost two tight games they should have won at the start of the season, KXIP managed to get on the right side of the results in the last couple of games, although it was too close for comfort by their own admission.
Needing seven off the last two overs with nine wickets in hand, they should have wrapped the game against RCB much before the last ball and even in the IPL's first double Super Over against Mumbai Indians on Sunday night, the KL Rahul-led side could have closed it out in regulation time.
Death bowling and the form of star player Glenn Maxwell in a shaky middle-order remain a concern for a team that needs to win its remaining five games to make the playoffs.
The fact that KXIP have struggled this season despite having the tournament's top two run-getters in openers Rahul (525) and Mayank Agarwal (393) best sums up their erratic run.
On a positive note, the successful return of Chris Gayle has reduced the burden on the shoulders of the star openers, especially allowing Rahul to play more freely.
Nicholas Pooran has shown his ability time and again but is yet to play a match-winning knock and the pressure is increasing on Maxwell the batsman, who is proving to be more useful as a spinner operating in the powerplay. However, the team is likely to stick to him in the game against Delhi Capitals.
DC are clearly the team to beat in the tournament and have gained confidence with a close win against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on Saturday night.
While Prithvi Shaw needs to be back among the runs after a couple of ducks, his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan elevating his game bodes well for the team that has won seven out of the nine matches it has played.
Axar Patel has shown his utility not just with the ball but also with the bat. His three sixes off Ravindra Jadeja helped Delhi get over the line in the final over finish against CSK.
With an envious bowling line-up, Delhi have shown they can defend even below-par totals. Playing in the absence of an injured Rishabh Pant, time is running out for Ajinkya Rahane to make an impact.
When the two teams met the last time, the clash went into a Super Over, and more than DC, KXIP will be hoping that it doesn't come to that again.
Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul, Harpreet Brar, Ishan Porel, Mandeep Singh, James Neesham, Tajinder Singh, Chris Jordan, Karun Nair, Deepak Hooda, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Glenn Maxwell, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Sarfaraz Khan, Sheldon Cottrell, Mayank Agarwal, Mohammed Shami, Darshan Nalkande, Nicholas Pooran, Chris Gayle, Murugan Ashwin, Jagadeesha Suchith, Krishnappa Gowtham, Hardus Viljoen, Simran Singh
Delhi Capitals: Shreyas Iyer (c), Kagiso Rabada, Marcus Stoinis, Sandeep Lamichhane, Ishant Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Shimron Hetmyer, Alex Carey, Mohit Sharma, Prithvi Shaw, Lalit Yadav, Avesh Khan, Axar Patel, Tushar Deshpande, Rishabh Pant, Harshal Patel, Keemo Paul, Amit Mishra, Anrich Nortje, Daniel Sams.
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