The 21st match of the IPL 2021 tournament between the blockbuster teams, Punjab Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders, could all be about match-ups. Here, we take a look at a key game plan that could play a role in the 21st game of IPL 2021 – PBKS vs KKR.
Punjab Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders haven’t had good starts to their IPL campaigns. Both have played five games, PBKS have lost three and KKR have lost two. For either team, neither the batting unit nor the bowling have been competent, although PBKS made strides towards having that perfect game in their last encounter against MI.
Venue: The Ahmedabad leg begins with this fixture. In the India-England T20I series, the captain that won the toss opted to field in all five matches. Although not from a large sample size, pacers had a better outing than the spinners throughout the series. Dew also came into play in the second innings especially, but it remains to be seen if it will have a major effect now.
PBKS vs KKR – Harbhajan and Lockie must play for KKR!
Punjab Kings haven’t tinkered much with their core batting unit so far. KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Deepak Hooda and Shahrukh Khan have played all five matches until now. While as a whole, they are more than competent against spin, quality pace could hinder them massively. Barring KL Rahul, none of their batters are comfortable facing express pace. As a result, KKR should include Lockie Ferguson who clocked 150 kmph 19 times in IPL 2020, and can hit 145 clicks regularly as well as test the middle order with hard lengths.
Stat: The only type of bowling Nicholas Pooran has faced more than 100 deliveries of in his IPL career is right-arm pace. From 126 deliveries, he has scored at 9.1 RPO but gets dismissed every 9 deliveries (13 dismissals).
Across Gayle’s IPL career, he averages 35 against off-break bowlers, but at the same time is tied down by it, scoring at a mere 6.8 runs per over. Pooran on the other hand, has faced only 52 deliveries of off-break but has been dismissed thrice, scoring at 8.4 RPO. To counter the left-handers in the middle order, namely Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran, KKR should also ponder playing Harbhajan Singh.
PBKS vs KKR – Make the most of the Powerplay overs!
After each team has played five matches, Punjab Kings have the lowest run-rate in the Powerplay overs. While the league average so far has been 7.64 runs an over, PBKS have only managed 6.93 RPO. A lot of that has to do with KL Rahul and Chris Gayle only scoring at run-a-ball in the first six overs. While it’s understandable that Gayle is a slow-starter and needs a few balls to settle in, Rahul should try to be more proactive and find more scoring opportunities with the field up. He can take a back seat when batting with Mayank, but in the first few deliveries with Chris Gayle, Rahul needs to find the fence a few times to prevent the scoring rate from dropping.
KKR have just about been at par with the league average in terms of scoring rate in the Powerplay, but have the second-lowest average which means they’re losing wickets too often. Shubman Gill’s poor start to the season is a major reason for that, but KKR wouldn’t want to change his position. He loves batting against the franchise based from his state. Gill has three fifties from five innings against Punjab, while scoring at 8 runs an over.
KKR have bowled a lot more spin in the first six than other teams so far, however in the T20I series the new ball swung for the first few overs, so Mavi and Cummins might bowl with the new ball. The PBKS batters can try shuffling in their crease to try and throw the bowlers off their line before capitalizing.
To make the most of the swing with the new ball, PBKS should also bring Jhye Richardson back into their eleven. He’s capable of finding swing and movement and can bowl at the death too. PBKS can use two overs each of Jhye, Shami and Arshdeep in the Powerplay.