Kolkata Knightriders will be eager to get back to the ruthless form they were in at the beginning when they face the Rising Pune Supergiants at the Eden Gardens tomorrow. The Gambhir-led team are coming off their biggest defeat of the season, only their third loss this IPL, when they lost to the Sunrisers Hyderabad by a massive 48 runs after David Warner hit a century to help SRH post 209 in the first innings. In reply, the Kolkata side was restricted to 161/7, with only Robin Uthappa hitting a half century. Kolkata has 14 points from 10 games and will look to reach the magical number of 16 to qualify for the playoffs when they play against Pune tomorrow.
The Pune side is on somewhat of a roll now, having won five of their last six matches to put them firmly in contention for the playoff spot. Their last match’s victory against the Gujarat Lions was scripted by their million-dollar purchase Ben Stokes who carefully paced his innings to guide them to a five-wicket victory on his way to a 103 off 63 balls. The English all-rounder – who wants to be in the thick of the action all the time – has already won three Man of the Match awards: two for his bowling performances and one for his match-winning knock.
Kolkata’s success has been largely engineered by its opening batsmen – the on-and-off pinch hitting of Sunil Narine at the top is usually backed up by Gambhir and Uthappa, who have converted a large majority of their 50 plus scores into 70 plus scores, a testament to the stable hand they have played in the batting. But in the event of a failure of the trio, the likes of Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan must take up responsibility. Pandey has been in form and needs someone to lend support but KKR has struggled so far at number 6 and 7, the most crucial positions in a limited overs format. Be it Sheldon Jackson or Suryakumar Yadav, none has delivered and has been a big letdown for KKR and Jharkhand’s Ishank Jaggi might just get a look-in.
03 May 2017, 2000 Hrs IST
Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Head to Head
Overall: Matches played – 3, Kolkata Knight Riders Won – 3, Rising Pune Supergiant Won – 0.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Darren Bravo, Yusuf Pathan, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa (wicketkeeper), Umesh Yadav, Suryakumar Yadav, Ankit Rajpoot, Trent Boult, Piyush Chawla, Nathan Coulter Nile, Colin De Grandhomme, Rishi Dhawan, Sayan Ghosh, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Ishank Jaggi, Kuldeep Yadav, Chris Woakes, Chris Lynn, Manish Pandey.
Rising Pune Supergiant: Steve Smith (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicketkeeper), Ashok Dinda, Mayank Agarwal, Faf du Plessis, Ankit Sharma, Baba Aparajith, Ankush Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Dan Christian, Lockie Ferguson, Imran Tahir, Jaskaran Singh, Usman Khawaja, Saurabh Kumar, Ben Stokes, Washington Sundar, Milind Tandon, Manoj Tiwary, Adam Zampa, Jaydev Unadkat, Ishwar Pandey, Rahul Tripathi, Shardul Thakur.
- Pune is yet to win a single game against the Kolkata Knightriders, and the Kolkata side will look to exploit this fact in their bid to seal their berth in the playoff. It will also be important for them to finish in the top two, and we expect Gambhir’s men to come out with all guns blazing tomorrow at the Eden Gardens.
- Imran Tahir has an economy rate of 10.33 against the Kolkata Knight Riders – his poorest against any of the IPL teams he has played against. The reason for his poor figures –Robin Uthappa and Yusuf Pathan, who have together plundered him for 58 runs in 28 balls. Expect the South African to try and reverse some of that damage, while the Kolkata batsmen try and take advantage of the psychological gap they have against the veteran leggie.
- The one bowler you should keep an eye on is KKR’s Nathan Coulter-Nile. The Australian has been terrific with the ball for KKR; he has been hostile, has bowled quick and has caused plenty of damage already.