Last season's two underachievers, Kings XI Punjab and Rising Pune Supergiant, will go head to head in the first double header of the 2017 IPL season. While this is Punjab's opening game of the season, Pune were mighty impressive in their first game against Mumbai, chasing down 184 with ease.
Punjab have revamped their entire setup for the 10th edition of the tournament by roping in Virender Sehwag as the coach and promoting Glenn Maxwell as captain. However, the loss of Murali Vijay is a big blow to a squad that struggled for consistency last season. But we all know what they are capable of, cue the 2014 dream run to the final where they were chasing down any and all scores.
Pune, on the other hand, were unlucky last season with Kevin Pietersen and Steve Smith succumbing to injuries in the opening round of matches. The injury to R Ashwin appeared to be a concern for the Maharashtra team but Imran Tahir's inspired performance against Mumbai would have eased their worries. Captain Steve Smith's Indian run seems to be continuing in the IPL as well, with the Aussie skipper playing the lead role in their first win of the campaign.
Head to Head
With Pune joining the IPL (again) last year, the two sides have only met twice, with both teams winning a game apiece. Punjab won the opening fixture quite easily last year but ended up losing the second meeting that was effectively a match to decide who would end up dead last on the table.
In a match where the losers would be condemned to the last spot on the table, Punjab made a good start with Murali Vijay and Gurkeerat Singh scoring half centuries. The rest of the team chipped in with valuable contributions to take the total past 170 - a competitive score in Pune.
However, Pune struggled to put any real pressure on the visitors with the top order failing to up the run-rate, scoring at just over a run a ball. But Pune
Predicted Playing XI
Steve Smith (RPSG): Was there even a chance of that there would be anyone else in this category? The skipper was exceptional in the India-Australia series and was the key in Pune's win over Mumbai as he smashed two sixes in the last over to secure a victory for his team.
Glenn Maxwell (KIXP) - Where Punjab end up this season will depend on their captain's form. Maxwell scored at an average of almost 40 in the India-Australia series. He averaged an impressive 48.33 runs for his national side last year and if he can carry that form into the IPL, only a madman would bet against the Kings this season.