The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will take on the Punjab Kings (PBKS) in the eighth match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday.

The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will take on the Punjab Kings (PBKS) in the eighth match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday. KKR have had a mixed run in the tournament so far. They started IPL 2022 with an impressive six-wicket triumph over defending champions Chennai Super Kings. However, their batting faltered in the last game against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the last match as they went down by three wickets. Punjab won the only game they featured in, chasing a 200-plus score against RCB on the back of an impressive batting performance. As KKR face PBKS, here are five player battles to watch out for.

1. Mayank Agarwal vs Umesh Yadav: PBKS skipper Mayank Agarwal has been one of the most prolific batters in the IPL over the last couple of seasons. This is one of the reasons he was rewarded with the leadership after KL Rahul left Punjab. Agarwal has constantly got the team off to great starts with his aggressive stroke play. He can clear the field with ease in the first six overs and can score at a rapid pace. However, he will be up against Umesh Yadav against KKR. The pacer has been brilliant in both matches for the franchise so far, picking up early wickets and not giving anything away. His pace has been an added advantage. This will be a key battle at the top.

2. Venkatesh Iyer vs Arshdeep Singh: KKR opener Venkatesh Iyer has not fired in the first two games for the franchise. However, he will be expected to deliver the goods against PBKS. The left-handed batter will look to give the team an aggressive start by going after the bowling at the start. This is exactly the role he shone in last season. Iyer is likely to face stiff resistance from Arshdeep Singh. The left-arm pacer has been one of PBKS’ standout bowlers in the last two seasons. He pitches the ball in the right areas and gets it to do enough to trouble batters.

3. Shreyas Iyer vs Rahul Chahar: Kolkata skipper Shreyas Iyer has impressed with his captaincy, on the expected lines. However, he hasn’t been able to do much with the bat so far. He eased his way to 20 not against CSK, but feel cheaply against RCB, playing a rash stroke when the pressure was on. He is excellent against spinners and will look to take on Rahul Chahar. The leggie, though not as experienced as Iyer, has quite a few tricks up his sleeve. He has the variations to trouble the best in the business and will be gearing up for the challenge against the KKR captain.

4. Liam Livingstone vs Sunil Narine: England’s destructive batter Liam Livingstone has somehow not set the IPL on fire yet. He was poor for Rajasthan last season and fell cheaply for PBKS in their first game as well. However, there is no doubting his ability. He can produce the monster hits at regular intervals and take the match away from any opponent. Against KKR, he is likely to come up against spinner Sunil Narine. The experienced West Indian continues to bamboozle batters with his variations even after all these years. He will fancy his chances against Livingstone.

5. Odean Smith vs Tim Southee: In the last match, Odean Smith was brilliant against RCB, slamming a match-winning 25 not out off 8. He got length deliveries from the Bangalore bowlers and dispatched them big hits. It was the kind of innings the franchise was expecting of him after purchasing him for a high price. Smith, however, will face a tougher challenge against KKR if he gets to bat. At the death, he will be up against the wily Tim Southee, who is one of the most successful bowlers in T20I cricket. Can he find a way to get past the Kiwi pacer?

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