Kings XI Punjab’s (KXIP) performances in this year’s IPL have been nothing short of erratic. While it has accounted for the teams on par or below it in the table, it has lost to each of the teams above. With four wins and five losses the team is now closer to the bottom than the top.

This by no means suggests that the team is incapable of generating streaks of brilliance. David Miller and Mandeep Singh showed that against Pune Warriors India (PWI) and Manpreet Grewal against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).

But sadly these have remained rare. Batting performances have largely been insipid and only Mandeep, with one half century, and Miller (average 66.66 and strike rate 143.88), with two, have really shown signs of contributing substantially.

The opening pair has rarely put on a sizable partnership – crossing 20 on just three occasions. Regular skipper Adam Gilchrist benched himself in the previous game against Mumbai Indians to make way for Shaun Marsh. An inkling of the latter’s form in the previous editions is what KXIP badly needs.

For all these to fall in place is no doubt a formidable ask, but for it to happen against the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on Thursday seems all the more daunting. The runaway leader has now won six on the trot and the side is the most formidable in the league.

The outfit has particularly revelled in its players’ ability to summon their best when needed. This was best exemplified in M.S. Dhoni’s knock against the Sunrisers Hyderabad (67 off 37) and Suresh Raina’s anchoring innings against PWI in the previous game when Michael Hussey suffered a rare blip.

However, the fourth overseas player’s slot has been something sort of a musical chair so far. Dirk Nannes, Jason Holder, Albie Morkel have all been in and out and it is to be seen who gets the nod.

In the corresponding fixture last time, KXIP overcame CSK by seven runs to join a mid-table scramble for a semifinal spot. It is currently placed sixth. For it repeat last year’s act and send shockwaves all the way up requires more than a herculean effort.

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