IPL Qualifier Preview: Skip Mumbai and Reach Bangalore Directly: Kings or Knights!!

In Indian, Mumbai is a popular destination. But when Eden Gardens will host the first Qualifier of IPL 2014, distributing one ticket to Bangalore and other ticket to Mumbai, visitors Kings XI Punjab and the host Kolkata Knight Riders will certainly not fight for the ticket to Mumbai, which the loser gets. Both the team would want a direct entry to finals at Bangalore. KKR needs one win to equal record of 8 consecutive wins set up by Kings XI. They have already mauled Kings at home this year. Still, when it comes to overall comparison of X factors in bowling and batting, Kings XI Punjab, who are the 5th team to score 22 points at group stage, hold slight edge.

22 Points vs 2nd Position
Kings XI Punjab are the 5th team in the IPL history to win 11 matches in a season. After reaching 22 points and topping the group only Rajasthan Royals (in 2008) have won the championship. Mumbai Indians also earned 22 points in 2013 and won the championship but then they finished 2nd, behind Chennai Super Kings, whom they defeated in the finals. Delhi Daredevils (in 2012) is the only team that earned 22 points, topped the group still could not reach the finals, and on that occasion Kolkata Knight Riders finished second with 21 points and won the tournament. Overall, with one exception of DD, all the other three teams (RR in 2008, CSK and MI in 2013) who earned 22 points at least reached the finals. But, Kolkata Knight Riders will like to believe that finishing 2nd matters more as that is the only time they won the tournament.

Tournament Records Kings and Knights
Kings XI has reached the semifinal only once in 2008. This is only their second semifinal. KKR, on the other hand are reaching the semifinal for the 3rd time in 4 years. They failed to reach the Playoff in the last season.

Kings XI has won 55 matches and lost 48 so far in IPL, while KKR has won 50 and lost 52 till Group Stage of the current 7th edition.

Head-to-Head: KXIP 7-6 KKR
KKR has won 6, Kings XI has won 7. Except in 2011 when they played only once and Kings XI won, they have shared the honours of a match each in every IPL, including 2014.


    KXIP def KKR by 9 Runs
    KKR def KXIP by 3 Wickets


    KKR def KXIP by 11 Runs
    KXIP def KKR by 6 Wickets


    KKR def KXIP by 39 Runs
    KXIP def KKR by 8 Wickets


    KKR def KXIP by 8 wickets

Kings XI def KKR by 2 runs, MOM: Narine (KKR)
Result: KKR won by 8 wkts, MOM: Gambhir


    Kings XI won by 4 runs, MOM: Gony
    KKR won by 6 wkts, MOM: Kallis


    Kingx XI won by 23 runs. MOM: Sandeep Sharma (3/21 with a maiden)
    KKR won by 9 wickets, MOM: Gambhir (45-ball 63* runs)

Journey so Far in 2014
Kings XI has a dream tour at UAE where both the teams played 5 matches each. Kings XI was the only team to win all the matches. But since then in the remaining 9 matches at India they have lost 3 and won 6 to finish on top. While they lost both against Mumbai Indians, in India, KKR is the only other team to have registered a win against them. Kings XI Punjab of 2014 is known for scoring big, with the best run rate among all teams. They have also won all the matches in which they chased.

Kolkata Knight Riders will take confidence from the fact that the only two times the high-flying Kings XI have been shot down below 150 runs, they were the opposition. On one occasion Sandeep Sharma helped Kings to avoid the scare, but on the other occasion at Eden Gardens, KKR mauled them by 9 wickets. Overall KKR is already on a 7 win streak and needs just one more win today to equal the record of Kings XI Punjab of maximum consecutive 8 wins by any team ever in IPL, which the Punjab set with 5 consecutive wins at the start of the tournament.

Team Comparison
Kings XI batsmen, specially Maxwell, Miller, Bailey in the company of Saha, Manan Vohra and Sehwag have made it a habit of reaching 170+ scores. 7 of their scores are above 170 runs, while KKRs highest is 195/4 (vs Bangalore). Most of the times they have scored between 160-166 runs.

But interestingly, the highest team total against KKR is 170/6 (by RR), whereas Kings XI bowlers have conceded 5 teams totals of 170 runs or more.

Although bowlers have bailed them out in some matches, as Sandeep Sharma has already won three Player of the Match awards, and Akshar Patel has been a pain for almost all the teams with ball, but most of the time it is the batting unit, in which even Akshar Patel and Rishi Dhawan has performed well at times, has taken team to victory. Overall, they are playing as a unit.

KKR bowlers have been the most exceptional bowling unit of the tournament. Narine and Shakib are already the most economical bowlers of the tournament, and Narine already grabbed Purple Cap with 20 wickets. While Sandeep Sharma with 17 wickets is their highest wicket taker, overall Kings XI as a unit has taken the maximum wickets of opposition.

The X Factors in Batting: Uthappa/Pathan vs Vohra/Duo M/Bailey

    Indian Stars: Sehwag, Gambhir, Uthappa, Manan Vohra
    Big Hitters: Maxwell, Yusuf Pathan, Maxwell, Bailey
    Successfuls: Saha, Shakib, Yusuf Pathan, Manish Pandey

Sehwag has shown glimpse of past, but is yet to show consistency. He has already scored 324 runs with a half-century. But Manan Vohra appears the bigger star hitting 197 runs in just 5 innings at a strike rate of 150+.
For KKR, Gambhir first played in ducks, and then started hitting runs, as he has reached 311 runs now with 3 50s. Yet, Uthapppa with 613 runs is their most consistent player, already holding the Orange Cap.

In the big hitters, while KKR has only Yusuf Pathan and Shakib, Kings XI is battery of big hitters with the likes of Maxwell, Miller, Bailey and even Saha and Manan Vohra able to hit sixes at will. That is what makes them the most difficult team to stop while chasing, and they are yet to lose while chasing.

Among successfuls, KKR have more of them due to failure in the early games. Manish Pandey (286 runs) has been a pillar for them, but has been unable to perform in the last few matches. For Kings XI almost every player is dangerour, not just successful.

Overall Uthappa and Yusuf Pathan need to fight it out with the successful hitting battery of Kings XI batting unit.

X Factors in Bowling: Narine/Shakib vs Sandeep/Akshar/Johnson/Rishi Dhawan
Overall the bowling of KKR is the strongest. Narine and Shakib have tied almost all the teams. Even Morne Morkel and Chawla have been impressive. For Kings XI Sandeep Sharma and Akshar Patel are hte most impressive. Even Karanveer Singh has impressed in 2 matches he played. Rishi Dhawan and Shivam Sharma have also been less expensive than Johnson, whose economy is 7.90. As a unit, Kings XI appears to be a better bowling unit.

Who will Win
KKRs team is winning on a good start from the openers, specially Uthappa. If they fail, the middle order struggles and fails. But Yusuf Pathan, Shakib, and even Doeschate have displayed good form. Still a good start is what they need. Otherwise, just Narine and Shakib find it difficult to contain the opposition.
Sandeep Sharma, who was the MoM when Kings defeated KKR this season, will play a crucial role. Among his 17 wickets, 12 of them have come in the first 6 overs, makking him the best bowler of first 6 overs in the tournament. He appears to be the big hope of denting KKRs quick rise while batting, and rest Akshar Patel, Johnson, Rishi Dhawan and Karanveer Singh can take care of.

If they bat first, Sehwag and Manan Vohra will play crucial role in neutralizing the bowling impact of KKR, on which Maxwell, Miller, Bailey and Saha can thrive. So even if Narine and Shakib bowl decent quota of overs, Kings XI has the arsenal to stop the juggernaut of KKR and send them to Mumbai, while they can grab themselves the ticket to Bangalore.
Kings XI have edge.

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