West Indies star batsman Chris Gayle is predicted to replace Australia Glenn Maxwell in the King XI Punjab line-up for the upcoming match-up against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Saturday.

The 41-year-old big hitter had been expected to come into the line-up on Thursday, for the first time this season, but was forced to watch from the sideline after battling with a bout of food poisoning.  The team plummeted to a 5th loss of the season, from its first six games.

Frustration has grown with Maxwell as the all-rounder has managed just 48 runs in six matches.  It was hoped the player would replicate his heroics from the previous edition but another low score on Thursday has put his place in jeopardy.

"The message was very clear that they were not happy with Maxwell. It’s a clear statement if Chris Gayle walks in, Maxwell walks out," Former India spinner Pragyan Ojha told Sports Today.

 Ojha believes the team’s batting struggles have also impacted KL Rahul who he does not believe is playing like his usual self.  Ojha believes the issue is the burden of supporting what has proven to be a rather fragile middle-order.

. “I think he was just trying to play because he knew that the middle order is not doing well, that pressure and this game you know when you have over 200 runs to chase, any batsman would feel the pressure. And Rahul knows that if he and Mayank don’t do well, they have a fragile middle order. Anil Kumble mentioned Chris Gayle, they wanted him to play but he was not well.”

All-rounders Sunil Narine and Andre Russell bounced back with the ball to spearhead Kolkata Knight Riders' 10-run win over Chennai Super Kings in a low-scoring Indian Premier League encounter.

Narine, who has struggled with the bat throughout this IPL, and fellow West Indian Russell were two of those who failed to deliver as Kolkata were bowled out in 20 overs for 167, a total that owed much to Rahul Tripathi's 81 as he repaid the decision to promote him to open.

Chennai were confident of chasing their modest target when Shane Watson (50) and Ambati Rayudu (30) made 69 for the second wicket.

However, some brilliant death bowling from Narine (1-31) and Russell (1-18) meant the Super Kings came up short with 157-5.

Kolkata were indebted to Tripathi's 51-ball knock, which included eight fours and three sixes, as their star-studded middle order for once failed to show up.

Narine, who had been opening, was dropped down to four but could only make 17, while Eoin Morgan (7) and Russell (2) had rare off-days as Dwayne Bravo (3-37) led the Super Kings' fine bowling display.

There was then a boundary in each of Chennai's first 10 overs and they were coasting when requiring 69 off the final 48 balls with nine wickets in hand.

Yet Narine - who bowled overs 12, 14, 16 and 19 - applied the handbrake, along with Russell, whose two-over figures would have look much better had Ravindra Jadeja not struck the final three balls of the innings for an ultimately frivolous 14.

 

BATTING SHAKE-UP PAYS OFF FOR KNIGHT RIDERS

Kolkata's problems in the early stages of the tournament were due to a lack of big scores, with top scorer Shubman Gill down in 13th in the IPL for runs.

However, Tripathi hit their highest individual score in their five games so far, and boy was it needed given the rest of the order's struggles.

 

BOUNDARY DROUGHT COSTS SUPER KINGS

At 90-1 at the halfway point, Chennai were cruising and required only 78 from 60.

However, they failed to find or clear the ropes across the next 33 deliveries and were then left needing 55 off 27. It was that barren patch in the middle of their reply that ultimately proved their undoing.

Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer led the way as Delhi Capitals moved to the top of the Indian Premier League table with an 18-run victory over Kolkata Knight Riders. 

The Capitals posted 228-4 - the highest total of this year's IPL - as Shaw (66) and Ayer (88 not out) shone at the top of the order before Rishabh Pant chipped in with a 17-ball 38. 

Kolkata would surpass 200 too as both teams reached that landmark total for a third successive game in Sharjah, Eoin Morgan (44) and Rahul Tripathi (36) smashing 47 runs from the 17th and 18th overs. 

However, the Knight Riders would come up short in making 210-8 as Anrich Nortje (3-33) helped the Capitals make it three wins from four.

Delhi had three half-century partnerships at the start of their innings and Iyer, who crashed six maximums and seven fours, and Pant did most of the damage as the Capitals accumulated 77 runs in the final five overs. 

The Knight Riders were well short at the halfway point of their reply at 94-3 and they lost Nitish Rana (58) and captain Dinesh Karthik in back-to-back balls to Harshal Patel in the 13th over. 

A rapid 44 off 18 deliveries from England's limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan raised their hopes, but he fell in the penultimate over to Nortje, who gave up just five runs across those six balls, leaving Kolkata with too much to do.

 

LEAN RETURNS FOR NARINE 

Kolkata have won two of their opening four games, but no one has struggled for them more than opener Sunil Narine. Bowled by Nortje for three here, meaning he has made just a combined 27 runs in four innings at the tournament. 

"We will discuss Narine's role with the coaches, but I have got full confidence in Narine," Karthik said afterwards. 

NORTJE COMES TO RABADA'S RESCUE 

Kagiso Rabada is the joint-leading wicket-taker in this edition of the IPL with eight victims, but he had a hard time against Morgan, who smashed the South African paceman for three successive sixes at the start of the 18th over, a pair of short balls and an attempted yorker getting the treatment. 

Fortunately for Rabada, compatriot Nortje removed Morgan in the next over to kill off the Knight Riders' hopes. 

Early Indian Premier League leaders Rajasthan Royals suffered a 37-run defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders in Dubai on Wednesday despite Tom Curran's late half-century.

The Royals had won their opening two matches of the competition but, just three days on from the highest successful run chase in IPL history against Kings XI Punjab, turned in a miserable display with the bat.

Rajasthan, set 175 to win, tallied 12 runs off their first over - led by Jos Buttler (21) - but the signs of their subsequent struggles were there as Steve Smith came unstuck at the hand of international team-mate Pat Cummins (1-13) in the second.

Another big dismissal followed in the fifth over as Sanju Samson dragged Shivam Mavi (2-20) to midwicket and Buttler's departure to the same man prompted a flurry with two more wickets supplied by Kamlesh Nagarkoti (2-13) in the eighth over.

Rahul Tewatia had improbably inspired the dramatic victory over Kings XI last time out and similar heroics were required as he arrived at the crease.

There was a solitary six, but Tewatia (14) was beaten by Varun Chakravarthy (2-25), who found the middle stump, as the odds increasingly stacked against the Royals.

Curran made a fine 54 off 36, yet his side fell well short of the Knight Riders' 174-6, a target which might have been even greater but for Jofra Archer's (2-18) return to form with the ball.

The Knight Riders' top score came from opener Shubman Gill (47), who hit five fours and a maximum before handing Archer a simple catch off his own bowling.

Andre Russell sought to pick up the mantle and accelerated Kolkata's scoring with 16 runs off the 13th over, but he too departed as he picked out Jaydev Unadkat at the boundary attempting his fourth six of the innings.

It was left to Eoin Morgan to boost the total as he ended unbeaten on 34, surviving a scare off more dangerous Archer bowling, although it ultimately would have mattered little.
 

OUTSTANDING ARCHER

The Royals' star bowler was a dismal 0-46 in their dramatic victory on Sunday, but he was in the mood this time. A rapid first over saw just one run and set the tone, before he crucially caught Gill off his own bowling at the start of his next stint.

Archer's pace slowed Russell briefly and then saw Dinesh Karthik edge behind. He might have added the scalp of Morgan, too, had Tom Curran not dropped his England captain over the boundary.

"It's a different wicket here," Archer explained at the end of the innings. "You can hit length a bit more confidently."

KKR KIDS DO DAMAGE

Cummins made a superb start against Smith, another of the world's best bowlers following opponent Archer's lead, but it was the Knight Riders' younger stars who really sparkled.

Mavi and Nagarkoti are 21 and 20 respectively but both have missed long stretches in recent years due to back injuries, with the younger man not making his IPL debut until this season.

They shone against more experienced players on Wednesday, though, with Mavi crucially getting Samson and Buttler as the Royals started to recover from Smith's wicket.

Shubman Gill made a brilliant unbeaten half-century to steer Kolkata Knight Riders to a seven-wicket Indian Premier League win over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday.

Both sides had lost their first game of the tournament and it was KKR who got up and running at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, where Sunrisers could only post 142-4 after David Warner won the toss and opted to bat.

Manish Pandey top scored with 51 from 38 balls and Warner made 36, but Pat Cummins (1-19) and Varun Chakravarthy (1-25) were the standout bowlers in a fine performance in the field from the Knight Riders.

KKR stayed ahead of the run-rate in reply, but there was work to do when they were 53-3 in the seventh over in Abu Dhabi.

Star spinner Rashid Khan trapped captain Dinesh Karthik leg before for a duck to leave the Knight Riders three down, Sunil Narine having also gone without scoring and Nitish Rana (26) caught behind off Thangarasu Natarajan.

Gill (70no from 62) and Eoin Morgan (42no off 29) then combined for a match-winning unbroken stand of 92 to get Kolkata home with two overs to spare.

That leaves Sunrisers as the only team without a point early in the tournament.

CUMMINS SPOILS BAIRSTOW'S BIRTHDAY

Jonny Bairstow was unable to celebrate his 31st birthday with an explosive knock, departing for only five off 10 balls.

The England batsman might have thought it was his day when he successfully reviewed after being given out to Cummins, but he was cleaned up off the next ball from the Australia quick.

Cummins, who went for 49 from three overs in a loss to Mumbai Indians three days earlier, was outstanding and deserved more than just the one wicket, bowling 11 dot balls in four excellent overs.

Bairstow's opening partner Warner was looking in great touch until he was caught and bowled by Chakravarthy.

 

YOUTH AND EXPERIENCE GET KKR HOME

The 21-year-old Gill reached his half-century off 42 balls and saw it through with great support from the vastly experienced Morgan.

Gill and England's ODI World Cup-winning captain Morgan both struck two sixes as they took the game away from Sunrisers.

The powerful Morgan finished the game in the style, dispatching Natarajan over long-on for six and hitting the next ball for four to finish it off.

Gill, who also found the rope five times, was named man of the match after giving another demonstration of his considerable promise.

Rohit Sharma's rapid 80 steered Mumbai Indians to a convincing 49-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders in Wednesday's Indian Premier League clash.

The opener played a blinding captain's innings with his knock at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi coming off just 54 deliveries.

Rohit put on 90 runs with Suryakumar Yadav (47) for a second-wicket stand that frustrated the Knight Riders, who at least restricted Mumbai under 200.

Saurabh Tiwary (21) and Hardik Pandya (18) added valuable runs in a total of 195-5 that Kolkata never got near.

The impressive Jasprit Bumrah (2-32) dismissed Kolkata danger men Andre Russell (11) and Eoin Morgan (16) before they even got going.

Kolkata eventually posted 146-9 in reply, some way short of their target to start their campaign with a defeat, while Mumbai rebounded from an opening loss to Chennai Super Kings.


YOU SIXY THING, ROHIT

Rohit's knock included six sixes and three fours, with the unfortunate Kuldeep Yadav smacked straight over the ropes twice in the 14th over.

He now has 200 maximums in the IPL, 12 shy of MS Dhoni in third place on the all-time list, but still 126 short of leader Chris Gayle.


BUMRAH DOES THE BUSINESS

Trent Boult, James Pattinson and Rahul Chahar each also finished with two wickets in an all-round effort from Mumbai's bowling team.

Russell and Morgan were well capable of getting Kolkata, who had slipped to 77-4, back into the match but Bumrah broke up a potentially dangerous partnership in the 16th over.

Bumrah knocked back Russell's leg stump before Morgan edged behind, leaving Mumbai to close on a first victory in the UAE from six attempts.

Andre Russell is perhaps the most destructive batsmen in T20 cricket. Batting in the lower order for whichever team he is playing for, the powerful Jamaican can change the course of a game in just a few overs.

Pat Cummins revealed he is in regular contact with Kolkata Knight Riders over the postponed Indian Premier League season, which may yet be moved to later in 2020.

The latest edition of the tournament was due to begin on March 29 with a rematch of last year's final between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, but the coronavirus pandemic has put the IPL - along with all other major sporting events - on hold.

India has a travel ban in place for all international flights until April 14, meaning Australian fast bowler Cummins remains in his homeland as he waits for an update on the situation.

Media reports in India have suggested organisers may shift the campaign to take place in October and November instead, though such a move could only be made if the International Cricket Council decides to cancel the Twenty20 World Cup, which is due to take place at a similar time in Australia.

"Everything is changing, literally every single day," Cummins said during a video conference call with reporters on Friday. "The last I spoke to them (the Knight Riders), they said they're still really confident and hopeful it will be on at some stage.

"They obviously haven't cancelled it or anything like that yet. It's still a bit of a holding pattern, so we're in contact with our teams every few days.

"Obviously everyone is still really keen for it to go ahead, but the priority is to minimise risk of this spreading.

"It's going to be pretty tight, I think the travel ban (in India) is in place until April 14, so I don't expect anything too soon to happen."

While disappointed at not being able to play for the Knight Riders right now, Cummins - who became the IPL's most expensive overseas signing at December's auction - is making the most of the unexpected break following a hectic 12 months.

The bowler was part of Australia's squad for the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England and then also the Ashes series that followed, while he was a regular in all formats throughout a busy summer schedule on home soil.

"The preference would be to be over there (at the IPL) playing, but I think the silver lining is we do get a bit of a break," Cummins told the media.

"We're lucky in cricket, that it [the IPL] is right at the end of the season. We've played basically our whole season out, except for the last couple of games (against New Zealand) and we're always looking for those small breaks to refresh.

"But it almost feels like the start of an off-season at the moment, albeit we're all training by ourselves at home rather than going to the team gym."

Kolkata Knight Riders splashed out a record INR 15.5 crore for Australia star Pat Cummins in the IPL auction on Thursday.

Cummins had been the subject of bids from both Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals before Knight Riders gazumped their rivals.

The deal, worth roughly $2.2million, makes Cummins the most expensive overseas buy in IPL history.

The top-ranked Test bowler previously played in Kolkata in 2014 and 2015, along with Delhi Capitals in 2017. He missed the 2018 tournament with Mumbai Indians through injury.

Cummins has 17 wickets, at a rate of 29.35, in his 16 career IPL matches to date.

He is joined at Knight Riders by England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, whose reward for 2019 Cricket World Cup success is a much-improved deal.

Morgan, who is set to lead England again at the 2020 T20 World Cup, fetched INR 5.25 crore - more than double his wage for Kings XI Punjab in his most recent appearance in 2017.

Meanwhile, Cummins was not the only quick to welcome a big contract on Thursday, as debutant Sheldon Cottrell went to Kings XI for INR 8.5 crore.

And Indians signed Nathan Coulter-Nile for INR 8 crore.

Rajasthan Royals brought Jaydev Unadkat back for a third straight year, this time for a more modest INR 3 crore having spent top fees on the 28-year-old at the past two tournaments.

Glenn Maxwell went to Kings XI for INR 10.75 crore, while Royal Challengers sent INR 10 crore to Chris Morris.

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