Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), after winning their last league game, seem to have leapfrogged other teams in the race for a top four finish. KKR, after a series of inconsistent performances, produced a near-perfect game as they defeated a strong Delhi Capitals side by 59 runs. KL Rahul-led KXIP, who were once languishing at the bottom, have won four matches on the trot — last one coming against SRH on Saturday — which helped them climb to the fifth spot on the IPL 2020 Points Table. KKR are currently occupying the fourth position with 12 points from 11 matches, while KXIP are just below them with 10 points from the same number of games.

As far as current form is concerned, there is no team that can match KXIP who have defeated in-form teams like Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore — who occupy the top three places respectively.

However, when these two sides faced off earlier this season, KKR pulled off a thrilling two-run win after KXIP suffered a mini collapse towards the backend of their innings, thus losing the tie from a position of strength.

Kolkata Knight Riders produced their most clinical performance of the season against Delhi Capitals — with their batsmen and bowlers doing their jobs to perfection.

Nitish Rana relished his new role as an opener and scored a blistering half-century (81 off just 53 balls), while Sunil Narine, making a comeback after getting a clean chit from IPL’s suspect bowling action committee, also fired with the bat, scoring 64 off just 32 balls.

It was Narine’s counter-attacking masterclass that helped KKR recover from a poor start, which saw them losing three wickets inside eight overs, and still post a formidable 194/6 on the board.

After their batsmen had done the job, KKR’s mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy ripped through Delhi’s strong middle-order and returned with the first five-wicket haul of the season.

Chakravarthy’s looping deliveries enticed Delhi batsmen into playing big shots and they paid the price, with most of them getting caught near the fence. He won the Player of the Match for his memorable spell ended up picking 5 for 20 runs.

KXIP, who have been involved in several nail-biting contests, rode on their bowlers’ gritty performance to successfully defend the lowest total of the season. KXIP managed only 126/7 in their 20 overs, but Chris Jordan and Arshdeep Singh picked up three wickets apiece to hand their side a thrilling 12-run over 2016 champions.

With KKR and KXIP contesting for the playoff spot, Monday’s clash will provide both the teams with a chance to open up a considerable gap between them and the other sides who are fighting for the fourth playoff spot.

A big win on Monday and KXIP will break into the top four, while a victory for KKR will help them open a four-point gap between them and fifth-placed KXIP.

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