Rising Pune Supergiant are all set to clash with Kings XI Punjab on Sunday afternoon at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune. The match is a 'virtual knockout' for both the teams as they aim to secure the final spot in the IPL play-offs.
Sunrisers Hyderabad secured a play-off spot on Saturday as David Warner hit the winning runs against Gujarat Lions. As far as things stand, Pune has 16 points from 13 games and Punjab 14 from 13.
If Punjab wins the match, both these teams will stand at 16 points apiece. However, Pune's awful net-run rate (-0.083) compared to Punjab (+0.296) will see to its downfall in such a scenario.
On the other hand, if Pune wins the match it will automatically seal its position for the 4th berth. Steve Smith has captained Pune brilliantly and the batting looks great with stalwarts like Ajinkya Rahane, Ben Stokes, MS Dhoni, Rahul Tripathi and Manoj Tiwari apart from the captain himself.
Although Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni and Steven Smith haven't performed upto the standards, Ben Stokes has shown the silken touch in batting. Young guns like Tripathy and Tiwari have taken the responsibility of scoring the runs as the senior players have failed.
As far as the bowling department is concerned, Ben Stokes has once again proved he's worth every penny of the whopping INR 14.5 crore paid for his services.
Apart from providing his team timely breakthroughs, he has shown the proper direction to young pace bowlers such as Jaydev Unadkat and Shardul Thakur.
Washington Sundar and Adam Zampa will carry the responsibilities of the spin department. With Imran Tahir returning home, these two have got some big boots to fill.
As far as the Punjab team is concerned, the move to For Punjab, the move to promote Wriddhiman Saha up the order worked very well as the wicketkeeper-batsman came up with a brisk 93 against MI to set the platform for KXIP's massive total.
With Martin Guptill providing blistering starts regularly and Glenn Maxwell, getting amongst the runs, KXIP's batting appears in order despite the absence of Hashim Amla.
Shaun Marsh and Axar Patel have also come up with handy contributions to aid the team's cause. KXIP's bowling too has been on the mark and the steely resolve showed by Sandeep Sharma and Mohit Sharma in the last two matches would have pleased the team management.
Rahul Tewatia has emerged as a good leg-spin option and has formed a good partnership with the reliable Axar Patel. Matt Henry and Ishant Sharma's inconsistency has however emerged as a big headache for the Punjab management.
Both teams started the tournament on a slow note, but have established momentum as the season has rolled on. RPS won only one of their first four matches before winning 7 of their next 9 matches.
KXIP had two wins from their first six matches, and thereafter added five more wins to their tally in the following 7 matches. As far as the head-to-head record is concerned, both the teams have played 3 matches. Whereas KXIP has won two, RPS scripted a sole victory.
However, fans can expect a breathtaking contest as both teams go all-out to register their supremacy in the match.
Probable playing XI
Rising Pune Supergiant
1 Rahul Tripathi, 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 Manoj Tiwary, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Ben Stokes, 7 Dan Christian, 8 Washington Sundar, 9 Shardul Thakur, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Adam Zampa
Probable playing XI
Kings XI Punjab 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Manan Vohra, 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 Glenn Maxwell (capt), 5 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 6 Axar Patel, 7 Rahul Tewatia, 8 Swapnil Singh, 9 Matt Henry, 10 Mohit Sharma, 11 Sandeep Sharma