The Indian Premier League playoff fixtures are now set. Among the things we know heading into the decisive games is that the two form teams in the league present a major threat to a pair of deep and talented squads.
The Kolkata Knight Riders and the Mumbai Indians both enter the playoffs having won four in a row. That is sure to give them confidence ahead of daunting respective meetings with the Kings XI Punjab and the Chennai Super Kings.
Before breaking down the other key facts for the first qualifier and the eliminator, here's the full fixture list, date, time and venue information:
|Qualifier 1||Kings XI Punjab||Kolkata Knight Riders||Tue May 27 20:00 IST 14:30 GMT 15:30 BST||Eden Gardens, Kolkata|
|Eliminator||Chennai Super Kings||Mumbai Indians||Wed May 28 20:00 IST 14:30 GMT 15:30 BST||Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai|
IPL T20.com and ESPNCricinfo.com
Glenn Maxwell and Robin Uthappa Are the Two Most Prolific Batsmen in the IPL
When the Kings XI Punjab meet the Kolkata Knight Riders, the league's two most prolific batsmen could engage in a thrilling personal duel. Knight Riders ace Robin Uthappa is the current Orange Cap leader, per numbers from IPLT20.com.
His all-round figures have been astonishing during this season. His average score of 47.15 is particularly impressive. Yet the figure Uthappa is perhaps proudest of is the 69 fours he has struck during this campaign.
Not one to be outdone, Punjab smasher Glenn Maxwell leads the league in sixes, per IPLT20.com. The versatile Australian has sent 35 deliveries beyond the boundary.
The numbers show that no two hitters have been as efficient or spectacular as Uthappa and Maxwell this season. Their respective performances are likely to decide the marquee match of this year's playoff fixtures.
The Kings XI Boast the Most Productive, Exciting Batting Lineup in the IPL
Punjab's ability to reduce bowlers to tears isn't all about Maxwell's big-strike capability. The Kings XI actually boast the IPL's most productive and exciting batting lineup.
Writing for the league's official site, Arun Gopalakrishnan highlights the strength in depth the Kings XI possess down the order:
Kings XI Punjab’s batsmen have caused plenty of damage this season; not only have they scored more runs than any other team in the league stage, they’ve scored the runs at an incredible rate of 9.04 runs.
For most part of the season, KXIP’s approach has been to go on an all-out attack. In recent times, Manan Vohra and Virender Sehwag have gone after the bowlers from the word go, while Glenn Maxwell has inflicted scars on bowlers like no other batsman – this despite low scores in his last three outings. David Miller is the other important batsman in the KXIP scheme of things, for he has the game to play second-fiddle when someone is going hammer and tongs at the other end, or turn on the heat when required.
It's the number of options Punjab is able to unleash on opponents that makes its squad so dangerous. Having a heavy hitter like Maxwell is a bonus, but the real gem is the stylish opening partnership between Virender Sehwag and Manan Vohra.
The Knight Riders Have Bossed Recent Meetings
The Kings XI have been the undisputed dominant force of league play this season. But the Knight Riders are one of the few teams who won't be intimidated by Punjab's talent.
That's because Kolkata has bossed recent contests between the two. Gopalakrishnan broke down the Knight Riders' recent hold over the Kings XI:
By virtue of their thumping victory in Cuttack earlier this season, the Kolkata Knight Riders have a slight edge over Kings XI Punjab where history is concerned. KKR have won seven of their 13 previous meetings against KXIP.
The story is no different in contests between these two teams at Eden Gardens; hosts KKR have won 3 of their 5 matches against KXIP.
Obviously, recent form doesn't always prove decisive, especially in a playoff format. But knowing they have had Punjab's number for so long, has to be a massive confidence boost for the Knight Riders.
Meanwhile, fans of the Kings XI will no doubt be concerned by that mediocre record at Eden Gardens, ahead of the qualifier.
The Chennai Super Kings Have the IPL's Current Most Valuable Player
The Chennai Super Kings finished their league campaign by winning just one of their final four matches. However, the Super Kings can feel encouraged headed into the playoffs, thanks to the presence of the IPL's current most valuable player.
Batsman Dwayne Smith leads the MVP rankings with 273, according to IPLT20.com. That total is the result of a season's worth of solid performances, particularly with the bat.
Smith is second to Uthappa in the Orange Cap standings and is also one behind Maxwell in most sixes hit. If Smith is as good in the playoffs, Chennai will be a major contender for a place in the final.