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With exactly nine days left for the completion of the league stage of the Indian Premier League 2020. The competition is getting intense and so are the matches. After the epic four clashes that took place on the weekend. The Monday encounter will witness Kolkata Knight Riders taking on the vivacious Kings Xl Punjab at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, in what will be the 46th match of the IPL 2020.

The Kolkata side are placed 4th in the points table with 6 wins and a win here would definitely make them the favorites to make it to the play- offs. KXIP on the other hand with 10  points are placed one below the KKR on the points table.

Kolkata Knight Riders will be pumped up coming into this match as after a string of losses they bounced back well against the in-form Delhi Capitals to defeat them by a whopping 59 runs. The Delhi Capitals after winning the toss elected to bowl first. They did manage to get the wicket of Shubman Gill early in the innings but his partner Nitish Rana had better plans and was seen hitting the bowlers around the park. 

With the wickets of Tripathi and Dinesh Karthik falling in quick succession the DC threatened to wrap up things earlier than expected. But the West Indian all-rounder Sunil Narine was in the mood and he set the stadium ablaze by scoring a quick fire 64 of 32 balls which helped the KKR notch up a winning total of 194. The DC in return were never in the game as they kept losing wickets in quick intervals and ended up on the losing side by 59 runs.

Kings Xl Punjab too come on the back of a thrilling win against the 2016 champions Sunrisers Hyderabad, as the spirited KXIP managed to defend a below par score of 126 runs. At 56/1 in the first 6 overs, the match looked done and dusted in favor of the KXIP. But a late surge of Chris Jordan and Arshdeep Singh ensured that the KXIP won the match by 12 runs and also helped register their fourth consecutive win.

The previous encounter between two sides saw an intense finish which went in favor of the Kolkata side, as the KXIP needed 7 runs of the last ball. The struggling Glenn Maxwell did try his best, but fell a few inches off the boundary line, which meant the Kolkata side won by a narrow 2 runs margin.

A win here for the KKR would make their situation much better. While, a win for the KXIP would mean they climb up the ladder and take the place of KKR as KXIP have a better net run rate then the two champions champions.

Can the Kings Xl Punjab continue their winning momentum and make it five out of five? Or will Kolkata Knight Riders get one step closer to the play- off spot?

Head to Head

Matches Played- 26, KKR- 18, KXIP- 8, N/R- 0

Team News

Kolkata Knight Riders would be glad to have the West- Indian all- rounder Sunil Narine back to the playing line- up. While his inclusion definitely boosted the KKR team as after a losing streak, they finally managed to bounce back. After showcasing a wonderful performance against the DC, the KKR management is likely to feature the same Xl for this encounter. The only change may be of the West Indian all- rounder Andre Russell replacing the kiwis pacer Lockie Ferguson.

The KXIP have not reported any injuries and the team looks to be doing a wonderful job in the last few games. The Punjab team being undefeated in the four games would mean that they would not want to fiddle with the winning combination and could feature the same team that handed them a win over the Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Pitch and Conditions

The Sharjah pitch has been much friendly to the batsmen. Though we saw in the last match the CSK side were taken for a spin by the MI bowlers. The chase, though a low target, was made to look easy by the MI batsmen. It could be an indication that the pitch is still a good one for batting. Though a score of 200 looks unlikely, anywhere in 180 whereabouts would definitely put the team chasing in trouble.

The conditions have been well in favor of the sport and is expected to be the same way throughout the tournament. The temperature is expected to be hovering the 29 degree range. While, the humidity is expected to be on the lower side- around the 50-52 % range.

With the match scheduled to take place in the evening, the due is expected to play a part once again.

Probable Playing Xl

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR): Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Eoin Morgan (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Lockie Ferguson/Andre Russell, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Prasidh Krishna, Varun Chakravarthy

Kings Xl Punjab (KXIP): KL Rahul (c & wk), Mandeep Singh, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Glenn Maxwell, Deepak Hooda, Murugan Ashwin, Chris Jordan, Mohammed Shami, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh

Key Battles

KL Rahul  (KXIP) vs Pat Cummins (KKR)

KL Rahul  (KXIP) vs Pat Cummins (KKR)

The KXIP skipper has been unstoppable and has been at the top of the list of highest run-getters in this season ever since the start of this season. He is now 96 runs ahead of the second placed Shikhar Dhawan and it looks likely he will end up at the top spot given his prime touch. The right- hander will know in order for his team to make it to the play- offs, he has to anchor the innings from front once again and given his potential, he is likely to continue his prime. Rahul has scored 567 runs from the 11 matches played in this season.

Pat Cummins on the other side looks to have finally found his rhythm with the ball as he was seen picking up crucial wickets in the important clash against the Delhi Capitals. Given what the Australian has been doing at the International level, it could be safe to say that he will be once the vital bowler for the Kolkata Knight Riders. The spearhead has picked up 6 wickets from the 11 games played so far.

Can the in-form KXIP captain once again dominate the Australian Pacer?

Nitish Rana (KKR) vs Murugan Ashwin (KXIP)

Nitish Rana (KKR) vs Murugan Ashwin (KXIP)

The KKR batsman Nitish Rana has been a regular in the side this season but has not been able to perform to his potential. The 26- year old though struck at the right time for his team by scoring a fluent 81 of 53 balls. His partnership along with the all- rounder Sunil Narine ensured the team got to an excellent total of 194. The Indian would be really eager to continue his good form and maximize his chance. Rana has scored 265 runs in the 11 matches played this season.

The foxy leggie Murugan Ashwin on the other side would have definitely done his homework on the 26- year old. Murugan though has been doing a wonderful job for the Punjab side by picking up the crucial wickets and also containing the batsmen. He is someone who is not afraid to toss the ball up. He will be definitely looking forward to picking the important wicket of Nitish Rana. Ashwin has picked up 8 wickets in the 6 games he has played in this season.

Can Nitish Rana once again deliver the goods for KKR? Or will the foxy leg spinner outsmart him?

Prediction

Both the teams look good on the sheets and it looks really tough to separate the two. The Kolkata side though are ahead at the head to head basis but this is a different venue and the conditions are different. The Punjab side has been playing some fearless cricket and look really motivated to make it further in the tournament.

Given that the match is scheduled to take place in Sharjah, the KXIP will hold the slight edge as they have few of the best hard-hitters in their sport in the form of ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran. Though the pitch has slowed down it does still look good for batting and the short boundaries would mean it just a flex of muscle for the West Indian Veteran. KKR too have the power hitters- Eoin Morgan and Sunil Narine. But given the current form and conditions the Punjab side looks the better side.

Cricwizz predicts Kings Xl Punjab to win the match