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Kings XI and Charger aiming for semis

The Kings XI Punjab and the Deccan Chargers square off in a DLF Indian Premier League encounter at the Wanderers on Sunday where defeat for either side would be akin to a knockout blow in boxing.

Neither team have any wiggle room remaining at this late stage of Season 2009 of the DLF IPL, with the Kings XI Punjab’s win over the table topping Delhi Daredevils in Bloemfontein keeping alive their hopes of claiming a berth in the semifinals.

The Kings XI Punjab have been the most inconsistent side in this year’s tournament, blowing hot and cold throughout and as a result they entered the final phase of league play having to scrap for runs and wickets in order to keep themselves in contention. However their big name players stood up and were counted when it mattered most especially against the Delhi Daredevils. Brett Lee claimed three wickets with the ball while Irfan Pathan weighed in with two of his own and even Sreesanth had a welcome return to form with two wickets.

It was veteran Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara, who after going through something of a slump in the middle of the competition, rose like a phoenix to marshal his side to a fine victory in Bloemfontein. Irfan knocked in some big blows late on in the run chase to ease any nerves, but the Punjab team must hope it can repeat that kind of explosive performance on Sunday against the Deccan Chargers, whose results perhaps have not reflected the way they have played this year.

The Deccan Chargers have been one of the steadier teams in the tournament and have lost some narrow matches throughout. There was no clearer example of that than when the two teams met in Kimberly a week ago and the Kings XI snuck through to a three-wicket win off the penultimate ball of the match.

Adam Gilchrist remains the Deccan Chargers’ kingpin at the top of the order, but as the tournament enters its later phase the likes of Rohit Sharma and Andrew Symonds have played increasingly more important roles.

That will have to be the case at the Bullring on Sunday, where the crowd will be in for a humdinger in what for all intents and purposes will serve as a knockout game for the two sides.

The big question is of course: Who can land the knockout blow?

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