The Indian Premier League builds up to a busy weekend with one match in the competition on Friday as the Punjab Kings go up against the Lucknow Super Giants at the MCA Stadium in Pune in what is a big game for both teams.
Both sit in the middle reaches of the table which as ever at this stage of the season is quite congested so whoever wins this will so their chances of reaching the finals the world of good. The losers will need to put a run together soon.
With four wins and four defeats from their eight matches, the season of the Punjab Kings is at something of a crossroads. A good burst of form from here could easily see them into the finals but were they to stumble a little now then they are likely to fade away and not be too relevant when the postseason comes around. That might put some pressure on them in this match but that might be when their all or nothing approach serves them well.
When a team has a defined approach then the external things don’t feel as relevant. We saw in the last match the impact that their aggressive batting style can have but at the same time we saw how vulnerable they can leave themselves when it all goes wrong in the match prior to that. They will have to make sure that it goes right more often than not and with that in mind the recall of Bhanuka Rajapaksa looks to be a smart move.
Lucknow Super Giants
The Lucknow Super Giants are a win better off than their opponents here so they are in a better position to launch for a place in the top four, the last spot of which they currently occupy. They haven’t been as flashy as the Punjab Kings but they have been a lot more consistent in all departments and over the course of a season you would imagine that will serve them much better. They’ll need to hold their nerve here though.
The Super Giants were able to get the better of the Mumbai Indians last time out to repair the damage of a loss to the Royal Challengers Bangalore. If there is a concern it was that their bowlers were just starting to leak a few runs so a dominant display with the ball in that last match will have been very welcome. The positive for the Lucknow outfit is they have so much batting depth that you would fancy them in most run chases.
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This Punjab Kings look a much better outfit when they have have Bhanuka Rajapaksa in their ranks. It leaves them light in the bowling department but this is a team designed to build big scores so the more aggressive batters they can have the better.
Generally teams who load up with big hitters struggle to get mystery spinners away so the four overs of Ravi Bishnoi could be important here. He probably hasn’t bowled as well as he would have wanted in the competition so far but here is a chance to sort all that.
Depending on where you shop you can get sixes lines for this match between 14.5 and 17.5 and the lower end of that scale looks a little on the low side to me. This match is in Pune where the sixes have flowed throughout the tournament and just the fact that the Punjab Kings and their aggressive style are on show here it would be a surprise if that trend wasn’t to carry on in this match. To highlight the potential for sixes the last game here had a top score of 144/8 but there were 12 sixes in the match.
There are some massive hitters of a cricket ball on show here and the fact the Punjab Kings are playing the extra batter means that they can go hard much earlier which is only going to help with the sixes. The Super Giants bat so deep that the likes of Marcus Stoinis and Jason Holder have walked out at eight for them at different times this term. This is a small ground and that 14.5 line has to be taken.
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