Mohali, May 4: Despite the loss of their captain Adam Gilchrist, through injury, Kings XI Punjab are progressing on the right path in IPL 5. Punjab will be aiming to continue their winning march when they face struggling Rajasthan Royals in Game 48 on Saturday night.
In Gilchrist's absence, David Hussey has led the team well. Though, they stuttered towards the end of the chase against Royal Challengers Bangalore, victory was achieved in the last over.
Punjab have made a habit of upsetting big teams this year. So far, they have beaten Bangalore, Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders.
With five wins out of 10 outings, they have powered themselves into the top four in the points table. At the moment, they are placed fourth.
One more key factor in Punjab's success in the arrival of former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood.
The veteran, who is now a British national, has swung the fortunes of the team. In the last game against Bangalore, he was the Man-of-the-match for his fine spell of bowling.
Mahmood will again be the cynosure at their home ground, PCA Stadium. If they manage to down Rajasthan, it will be a huge step towards making the semi-finals.
Apart from Mahmood, the 20-year-old opener Mandeep Singh is shining with the bat. He is team's leading scorer with 277 runs from 10 games. Hussey is also playing well along with his compatriot Shaun Marsh. Wicketkeeper Nitin Saini struck a half century in Bangalore and he will look to carry that form forward.
Rahul Dravid-led Rajasthan have suffered four losses on the trot. If it is five out of five on Saturday night, that might end their hopes of making the play-offs.
Australia all-rounder Shane Watson will have to lift the team with a big score. Ajinkya Rahane is the Orange Cap holder and team will rely on him for a good start again.
Having started off with two wins in a row, Rajasthan have faltered midway. They are languishing in the bottom half of the points table. The Jaipur-based team is seventh with eight points from 10 matches.
Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid (captain), Siddharth Trivedi, Shane Watson, Shaun Tait, Dishant Yagnik, Paul Collingwood, S Sreesanth, Brad Hodge, Shreevats Goswami, Faiz Fazal, Samad Fallah, Aditya Dole, Brad Hogg, Ankeet Chavan, Dinesh Chandimal, Deepak Chahar, Johan Botha, Stuart Binny, Ashok Menaria, Sumit Narwal, Pankaj Singh, Pinal Shah, Owais Shah, Abhishek Raut, Ajinkya Rahane, Amit Singh, Amit Paunikar.
Kings XI Punjab: Adam Gilchrist (captain), David Hussey, Bipul Sharma, Paras Dogra, Harmeet Singh, Siddharth Chitnis, Love Ablish, Piyush Chawla, Amit Yadav, Parvinder Awana, Azhar Mahmood, Bhargav Bhatt, Ryan Harris, Vikramjeet Malik, Paul Valthaty, Sunny Singh, Shalabh Srivastava, Rajagopal Sathish, Nitin Saini (wicketkeeper), Nathan Rimmington, Abhishek Nayar, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, James Faulkner, Praveen Kumar, Shaun Marsh, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Ramesh Powar.
Match starts at 8PM IST
Also playing on Saturday, Kolkata Knight Riders Vs Pune Warriors at 4PM IST in Kolkata