As the battle to reach the play-off stage in IPL gets fierce, Kings XI Punjab find themselves in a must-win situation as they take on tournament-laggards Deccan Chargers at the PCA stadium in Mohali on Sunday.
Kings XI Punjab bowler Parvinder Awana (C) celebrates with teammates the wicket of Deccan Chargers Batsman Parthiv Patel (unseen) during the IPL Twenty20 cricket match between Deccan Chargers and Kings XI Punjab at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. AFP Photo/Noah Seelam
Punjab's clash with the Hyderabad team may be inconsequential for the Kumar
Sangakkara-led team but the local favourites can ill-afford any slip-up at this stage as there is a mad scramble among the teams to seal a berth for the play-offs.
Of the nine teams taking part in the competition, the Chargers have just two wins from 13 games. They along with Pune Warriors, who are currently placed eighth with four wins from 14, are out of the hunt.
With 12 points from an equal number of matches, the Punjab side, which managed to reach semi-final only once, in 2008, is placed at seventh in the table.
While top-of-the-table-team Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders may have virtually assured themselves of a berth in the play-offs, among rest of the five teams -- Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals and Punjab -- the battle has got intense.
Punjab have tough games coming up as they haven't played Delhi Daredevils yet and will be taking them on in Delhi after Sunday's match followed by another one at Dharamsala later. In between, they will play one match against Chennai Super Kings at Dharamsala.
Led by stand-in captain David Hussey, KXIP will have this daunting task at the back of their minds.
They will be high on confidence having defeated the Hyderabad team in their own backyard by 25 runs just a few days back but skipper's main worry would be Punjab's poor record on the home ground.
Opener Mandeep Singh has been the prolific scorer for his team accumulating 359 runs so far. Australian Shaun Marsh, former Pakistani all-rounder Azhar Mahmood and young South African David Miller too have shown that the home side's batting has depth.