IPL Final preview: Kolkata v Punjab
The final of the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League features 2012 champions Kolkata Knight Riders against first-time finalists Kings XI Punjab, clashing for the second time in a week.
<b>Overview</b><br>The final of the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League features 2012 champions Kolkata Knight Riders against first-time finalists Kings XI Punjab, clashing for the second time in a week.
While Punjab were the best side in the group stage, winning 11 out of 14 fixtures, they faltered against Kolkata in the first play-off game, but fortunately had another go, beating Chennai Super Kings by 24 runs.
Both sides feature impressive batting line ups, with Kolkata boasting the tournament's top run getter in Robin Uthappa, who has gone 10 games in a row with scored of 40 or more, four of which were half centuries.
Their form picked up after a poor start in the earlier stage of the tournament in the UAE, getting better once they dropped veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis, whose pace with the bat was holding the side back, sacrilegious as that is to say.
Since then they have won eight games in a row, and feature the tournament's most effective all-round bowling attack. Sunil Narine continues to baffle batsmen, while Umesh Yadav and Morne Morkel have been impressive of late.
For Punjab, they are unlikely to drop Glenn Maxwell just in case he comes off though his form in the latter half of the event has been poor. Still, his presence is a threat, alongside Virender Sehwag, David Miller and George Bailey.
This is the KXIP's first final, with their best being a semi-final place in the first edition, and since then they have not really impressed. They didn't even make the play-offs last year, but spend huge money on Maxwell and Mitchell Johnson and it's paid off.
<b>Key Players</b><br>For Kolkata, their key weapon, aside from Sunil Narine, is their opening pairing with the bat. Uthappa has managed to bat himself back into the India team over the past six weeks, as has Gautam Gambhir. If they fail, they have Shakib-al-Hasan to call on, who always does better here than for Bangladesh.
Punjab's key players are the same ones they've been relying on all tournament: Sehwag, Maxwell and Miller. While Maxi has dropped off, Sehwag comes into the final on the back of the tournament's top score and only its second century this season. Miller has been consistent throughout.
<b>Previous Meeting</b><br>Their most recent meeting was just a few days ago, in the first Qualifier. Kolkata won the match to reach this final straight away, while Punjab had to play again, against Chennai, to advance.
Kolkata had scored what seemed to be a below-par 163, but Punjab's fearsome batting line up failed for once, making only 135. Neither Glenn Maxwell nor David Miller reached double figures as the Kolkata bowlers triumphed.
<b>Likely Playing XIs</b><br><i>Kolkata Knight Riders:</i> Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir, Manish Pandey, Shakib-al-Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Ryan ten Doeschate, Suryakumar Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Sunil Narine, Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav
<i>Kings XI Punjab:</i> Manan Vohra, Virender Sehwag, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, George Bailey (captain), Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Akshar Patel, Mitchell Johnson, Rishi Dhawan, Karanveer Singh, Parvinder Awana
<b>Cricket365's Prediction</b><br>Purely for their overall performace, and sheer determination against Chennai, we're going to punt for Punjab, and say they'll win their maiden title in their maiden final.
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