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The Indian Premier League 2020 has now almost reached the end stages and interestingly the tournament still has all the four play- offs spots open for the grab. The season has been very tightly fought and the upcoming are likely expected to decide the fate of the teams. The second match of the Saturday double- header is scheduled to take place between the resurgent Kings Xl Punjab and 2016 champions Sunrisers Hyderabad.

The Sunrisers Hyderabad are placed 5th on the points table with 8 points. While the Punjab side has also bagged 8 points, they are placed one place below the Sunrisers vowing to a lower net run-rate. Given that, a win here for either of the teams will put in a strong position to make it to the play-offs.

The Kings Xl Punjab will come into the match on back of a win as they were able to chase the target of 164 runs with ease against the table toppers Delhi Capitals. The Capitals scored a decent total of 164 runs courtesy of an excellent century by the Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan. The KXIP had an unusually bad start as both the inform openers were dismissed early in the innings. But the middle- order stuck together well. Added with the half- century by the West Indian Nicholas Pooran ensured the Punjab side registered their 3rd consecutive win.

Sunrisers too are coming on back of a dominating performance as they managed to chase down a modest total of 154 against the Rajasthan Royals with 8 wickets to spare. With most of their batsmen getting a start, the RR managed to put up a total of 154. Steven Smith and Co. threaten to take the game away from the Sunrisers by reducing them to 16/2. But the brilliant knock 83 by the spirited Indian Manish Pandey combined with a steady half century by the all- rounder Vijay Shankar made sure that Sunrisers were still in the hunt for the title.

The previous encounter between the two sides in this season saw the 2016 champions Sunrisers dominate the proceedings. The Sunrisers winning the toss chose to bat first and with the help of brilliant 97 from Jonny Bairstow and a half century from the bat of their captain David Warner helped SRH notch a winning total of 201. The KXIP were clueless in the chase barring the exceptional Nicholas Pooran who scored a quickfire 77 runs of 37 balls but the West Indian was out of partners. Which meant the Punjab side ended on the losing side by a whopping 69 runs.

Can KXIP continue their winning run in the crucial stage of the tournament? Or will the 2016 champions Sunrisers Hyderabad make things tough for the Punjab side?

Head to Head

Matches Played- 15, KXIP- 4, SRH- 11, N/R- 0

Team News

KXIP have not reported any injuries and the players seem to be doing a wonderful job. The only concern would be the form of the Australian hard- hitter Glenn Maxwell. But the all- rounder has been doing a decent job with the ball and also showed glimpses of his true potential in the game against the Delhi Capitals. Given that, the management will not want to mess around with the winning combination.

Sunrisers Hyderabad on the other side made a huge change in form of Jason Holder in place of Kane Williamson. But was later revealed the change was a forced one as the kiwis captain is once again reported to be injured. 

Though the addiction of Jason Holder worked in favor of the Hyderabad side as the West Indian captain picked up three crucial wickets. The Sunrisers are also likely to feature the same Xl that handed them a comfortable 8 wicket win over the Rajasthan Royals.

Pitch and Conditions

The pitch in Dubai has been more in favor of the batsmen with the occasional odd bounce and spin favoring the spinners. As seen in the last few matches any score of 170 plus by the team batting first seems to put the team chasing in a spot of bother. With the match scheduled to take place in the evening, the due is once again expected to play an important role.

The conditions are ideal for the sport as clear skies are expected throughout the day. The temperature is expected to be hovering in the 28- 30 degree range. While the humidity is expected to reach 52% at peak.

Probable Playing Xl

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

Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH): David Warner (c), Jonny Bairstow (wk), Priyam Garg, Manish Pandey, Vijay Shankar, Abdul Samad, Jason Holder, Rashid Khan, Shahbaz Nadeem, Sandeep Sharma, T Natarajan

Key Battles

Manish Pandey (SRH) vs Ravi Bishnoi (KXIP)

Manish Pandey (SRH) vs Ravi Bishnoi (KXIP)

The star middle-order batsman Manish Pandey has been scoring valuable runs for his team and his innings of 83*(47) against the Rajasthan Royals will definitely go down as one of his best knocks as he took his team over the line in a do or die situation. With 295 runs in the 10 matches played this season, the right- hander is placed 13th in the list of players with most runs in the IPL 2020.

On the other side, Ravi Bishnoi has been a great asset for the Kings Xl Punjab. Though not that active on the wickets column, he has been containing the batsmen at the most crucial situations. The leg- spinner is not afraid to toss it up and  he will surely be looking for the big wicket of Manish Pandey. Bishnoi has picked up 9 wickets from the 10 matches played this season and is placed 14th in the list of highest wicket- takers in the Indian Premier League 2020.

Can the foxy leggie outsmart the in-form Sunrisers Batsman?

Mayank Agarwal (KXIP) vs Jason Holder (SRH)

Mayank Agarwal (KXIP) vs Jason Holder (SRH)

The third highest run-getter in this season of the IPL is not done yet and still looks hungry for runs. He is 67 runs behind the second highest Shikhar Dhawan and he will be looking to close in the gap between them. The Right- hander along with his captain KL Rahul have been providing KXIP some stunning starts and they will be hoping he can contribute once again in this all important encounter.

Sunrisers Hyderabad on the other hand have found a gem of a player in Jason Holder. The West Indian captain is someone with a huge potential and the SRH now would be regretting not using him earlier in the tournament. The pacer had a great outing against the RR, where he managed to pick three crucial wickets, which included the wickets of star batsman Sanju Samson and Royals captain Steven Smith. He will be looking forward to continuing his great form by dismissing the run-hungry Mayank Agarwal.

Can Jason Holder continue ticking the wickets column? Or will the in- form opener dictate the proceedings?

Prediction

Both the teams now look well balanced and determined to make into the top four. But the Kings Xl Punjab have been on a great run and even the table toppers have found them difficult to get past.  The conditions in Dubai might be in favor of the KXIP as they have a very good batting line-up and the hard- hitters will have their job cut out.

Given the match is a must win for both the teams. SRH might do better in terms of handling the pressure. Mainly due to the fact that they have already won the title once. But the Punjab team looked much rejuvenated after the addition of the ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle. The only way the Sunrisers can get past KL Rahul and Co. is by breaking the top order of theirs, but it is easier said than done.

Cricwizz predicts Kings Xl Punjab to win the match