Dhawan and Livingstone in focus as Punjab Kings host RCB

Dhawan and Livingstone in focus as Punjab Kings host RCB

Big picture: Hesson’s return

Punjab Kings, in their old guise as Kings XI Punjab, missed out on the play-offs on net run-rate in 2019 but that was not enough for Mike Hesson, their coach, to keep his job.

Perhaps, with hindsight, Hesson was onto a good thing – but in keeping with Kings’ IPL history, he did not last long enough for them to find out. The following season, he started a new role as director of cricket at Royal Challengers Bangalore and in each of the three seasons he has overseen, RCB have qualified for the play-offs. Kings, meanwhile, have missed out in all three.

Yet on Thursday afternoon, Hesson returns to Mohali feeling the pressure. After falling just short in their bid for a record run chase against Chennai Super Kings on Monday night, RCB can ill-afford to lose their fourth game of the season; Kings, meanwhile, are flying high after turning over Lucknow Super Giants on their own patch on Saturday night.

IPL 2023 form guide

Punjab Kings WLLWW (last five matches, most recent first)

Royal Challengers Bangalore LWLLW

Team news: Will Dhawan and Livingstone return?

It remains to be seen whether Shikhar Dhawan is fit enough to play, after he underwent a fitness test in Kings’ training session on Wednesday afternoon. “I don’t know how bad it is, but hopefully it’s not too long,” Curran, who deputised as captain, said at the toss before their victory in Lucknow.

Liam Livingstone arrived in India over a week ago but is yet to feature for Kings after straining a muscle – understood to be his hamstring – while batting in the nets. A cryptic recent Instagram post featuring crossed fingers and praying hands suggests he is hoping to be available soon. It is understood that he has recovered and could be in contention to play on Thursday.

Josh Hazlewood has arrived in India but is still completing his rehabilitation and appears unlikely to feature at this stage. Wayne Parnell looks set to continue as their overseas seam option in his absence, though David Willey is a compelling alternative.

Toss and Impact Player strategy

Punjab Kings

Kings’ balance will depend on whether Dhawan is fit, and therefore whether or not they feel the need to cover his absence with an additional domestic batter. Livingstone, if fit, would represent a like-for-like swap with Sikandar Raza – though there is a chance that both play and Matthew Short drops out. Raza was named Player of the Match in their last game, picking a wicket and scoring a 41-ball 57. If Kings bat first, Prabhsimran Singh will likely start and be substituted by Rahul Chahar, and vice versa if they bowl first.

Possible XII: 1 Shikhar Dhawan/Atharva Taide, 2 Prabhsimran Singh, 3 Matthew Short, 4 Harpreet Singh, 5 Liam Livingstone/Sikandar Raza, 6 Jitesh Sharma (wk), 7 Sam Curran, 8 Shahrukh Khan, 9 Harpreet Brar, 10 Kagiso Rabada, 11 Rahul Chahar, 12 Arshdeep Singh

Royal Challengers Bangalore

RCB have a decision to make on Vijaykumar Vyshak, who impressed on debut against Delhi Capitals but had a rough outing against Chennai Super Kings. If they choose to leave him out, they may return to Akash Deep. Suyash Prabhudessai’s cameo will earn him a run in the middle order, and he is likely to be involved in their Impact Player switch, either replacing or being replaced by a domestic bowler.

Possible XII: 1 Virat Kohli, 2 Faf du Plessis (capt), 3 Mahipal Lomror, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Suyash Prabhudessai, 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Shahbaz Ahmad, 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Harshal Patel, 10 Wayne Parnell, 11 Akash Deep/Vijaykumar Vyshak, 12 Mohammed Siraj.

Stats that matter

  • Kings have won five of their last six games against RCB, and did the double over them last season.
  • Kagiso Rabada has a strong head-to-head record against RCB’s main batters: he has dismissed both Virat Kohli and Dinesh Karthik four times in all T20 cricket, and Faf du Plessis and Glenn Maxwell three times each.
  • RCB have been the safest catching side in the league this season, dropping only two out of 28 catching chances.
  • Pitch and conditions

    The average first-innings total at Mohali in IPL games since 2018 is 175, but the average winning first-innings total is 186. Kings won their first home fixture, defending 191 against Kolkata Knight Riders (via DLS), then slipped to defeat against Gujarat Titans in their second. The weather will be warm, with some chance of rain.

    Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

    (With Inputs from ESPN)

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