IPL 2014: Kings XI Punjab vs. Kolkata Knight Riders Prediction and Key Players

Rory MarsdenFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2014

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 19:  Priety Zinta the owner of the Kings XI cheers on her team during the  IPL T20 match between Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab on April 19, 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa.  (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)
Tom Shaw/Getty Images

After 59 matches and 47 days of cricket in the UAE and India it all comes down to Kings XI Punjab against Kolkata Knight Riders for the final of IPL 7 in Bangalore on Sunday.

Kings XI posted yet another monstrous score against Chennai on Friday in Qualifier 2 to make it through to the final where they will face a formidable Kolkata side who prevailed when the two sides met in Qualifier 1 on Wednesday. 

First-time finalists Punjab have been the star batting side in the tournament so far and managed to power their way to 11 wins from 14 matches in the league phase, easily coming out top of the pile.

However, Kolkata are in flying form and have won a record-equalling eight matches in a row, per cricket statistician Mohandas Menon, and they will be confident of making it nine and adding the 2014 IPL crown to their 2012 triumph. 

Let's take a look at the key players for Sunday's clash. 


Key Players

Kolkata Knight Riders

Robin Uthappa has been the key man for the Knight Riders since the tournament moved to India and he has been an essential part of their phenomenal winning streak.

The 28-year-old's 42 in the Knight Riders' 28-run victory over Punjab in Qualifier 1 was his 10th consecutive score of over 40 in this year's tournament, per Opta.

His contribution at the top of the order could be essential and Punjab will no doubt be hoping to get rid of him early and put pressure on the rest of the Kolkata batsmen.

The Knight Riders have received a big boost ahead of the final with star-bowler Sunil Narine's decision to stay and take part in the showpiece fixture, sacrificing his place in the West Indies' June Test series against New Zealand in the process.

The 26-year-old has taken 20 wickets in this year's tournament, second only to Mohit Sharma's 23, and his economy rate of 6.01 is the best of anyone to have bowled more than 10 overs in the competition, per ESPNcricinfo.

With Kings XI's big-hitting prowess a real danger for Kolkata, Narine's supreme efficiency with the ball could be absolutely essential in Sunday's final. 


Kings XI Punjab

Early on in this year's tournament it was all about Glenn Maxwell as he scored 279 runs in his first three innings and looked to be unstoppable.

However, in the latter part of the tournament he has not fared nearly as well, but if he can find his form for the final he could prove the difference in Bangalore.

Even if Maxwell doesn't fire, Punjab have more than enough quality to score big. They have the four highest totals of the tournament, most recently a total of 226 in victory over Chennai on Friday.

Virender Sehwag scored a 58-ball 122 at the top of the order in that match and thus goes into the final with terrific momentum.

If Sehwag can get Punjab off to a good start once again, the likes of Maxwell, David Miller and George Bailey will be confident of playing their shots, if and when they come to the crease.

In the bowling department, Mitchell Johnson will need to be on top form if Kings XI are to restrict Kolkata.

The Australian paceman has experience of an IPL final, he was part of last year's victorious Mumbai Indians side in his first IPL. That experience could be telling as Johnson leads the Punjab attack in this year's final.  

Prediction: Kolkata Knight Riders to beat Kings XI Punjab and win their second IPL