Kings XI Punjab face Rising Pune Supergiant in a virtual IPL 2017 quarterfinal | ipl 2017 | Hindustan Times
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Kings XI Punjab face Rising Pune Supergiant in a virtual IPL 2017 quarterfinal

Going into their last league game of IPL 2017 against Rising Pune Supergiant, Kings XI Punjab need to win to stand a chance of qualifying for the knockouts

ipl 2017 Updated: May 14, 2017 00:32 IST
Kings XI Punjab will need to win against Rising Pune Supergiant to make it to the IPL 2017 playoffs.
Kings XI Punjab will need to win against Rising Pune Supergiant to make it to the IPL 2017 playoffs.(AFP)

In what will be a virtual quarterfinal, Rising Pune Supergiant will take on Kings XI Punjab in their last group game here on Sunday. It is a must-win tie for Kings XI Punjab to stay in reckoning for playoffs. But there are chances that rain could play spoilsport. (IPL 2017 FULL COVERAGE)

Rising Pune Supergiant, however, could qualify despite losing or in case of a washout.

The situation

It is a strange scenario indeed. Mumbai Indians have already qualified for the play-offs while Kolkata Knight Riders qualified even after losing to Mumbai Indians because of the superior run-rate (+0.641).

Sunday’s match has now become more crucial, a virtual quarterfinal, after Sunrisers Hyderabad’s victory in their last league game against Gujarat Lions ensured them a place in the playoffs and Kings XI Punjab and Rising Pune Supergiant will now have to play for the last available spot.

READ | Four IPL games in three years, Vijay Shankar comes good for Sunrisers Hyderabad

Pune’s problems

For a major part of the season, RPS’ batting woes had been taken care of by the sensational Rahul Tripathi who managed to provide perfect platforms for his side. His partner at the other end, Ajinkya Rahane (248 runs at an average of 19.07), however, has struggled. Of the 10 times the two have stepped out to take guard together, Rahane has fallen first on eight occasions.

The reason RPS find themselves on the cusp of qualification despite a horrid start to the tournament is because someone or the other has managed to step up in every game. The players, however, have lacked consistency. Be it Ben Stokes, Steven Smith or MS Dhoni, none of the top RPS batsmen have been able to play to their potential and consistently. Although Dhoni did manage to finish off a few games, he’s failed in delivering in crunch situations.

Their bowling has been decent with Imran Tahir and of late Jaydev Unadkat, being impressive.

READ | Kings XI Punjab vs Rising Pune Supergiant a mini final: Shaun Marsh

Pouncing Punjab

After four successive losses early on in the tournament, Kings XI Punjab were in a spot of bother. But they have recovered well to keep their qualification hopes alive. A major reason for their turnaround has been the consistent performances from Glenn Maxwell, Sandeep Sharma and Axar Patel, which along with a few blistering knocks from Shaun Marsh and Hashim Amla, have kept them in the hunt.

Sandeep Sharma, in particular, has been their go-to man over the last few games. He’s currently fifth on the list of top wicket-takers this season and has been extremely effective at the death. Maxwell, too, has contributed well with the bat and has chipped in with crucial breakthroughs.

On Sunday too, a shared workload might come in handy for KXIP against RPS, who may still have to bank on individual brilliance to come through.