Kolkata, May 8: In a repeat of last year’s final, a confident Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will look to continue their rollicking form at home as they lock horns with Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Eden Gardens here on Saturday. The Eden has been a fortress so far this season for KKR with three back-to-back wins and with mystery tweaker Sunil Narine back in the side, the home team will believe they can outdo the opposition four times in a row.
All three departments for the Knights have stood up and delivered in the last few matches, especially the bowling which has been a hard nut to crack. Even the Delhi Daredevils batsmen found the Kolkata bowlers difficult as they lost by 13 runs chasing a target of 172 here on Thursday. The win took the Knights to third in the standings with 13 points from 11 games.
On the other hand, Kings XI’s campaign has looked like a punctured tyre that had to traverse through a road with spiked strips. Last year’s runners-up have only been a shadow of themselves in this edition with two wins from 10 games. Hefty Jamaican Chris Gayle of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) did not do them much good either in their last encounter as he smashed the hapless Punjab bowlers en route to 117. In reply to RCB’s 226/3, the Kings could only muster a dismal 88 before being bowled out in 13.4 overs.
The head-to-head encounters also tilt the odds in favour of the Knights who have clinched 10 out of 16 games. But in a Twenty20 game, the tables can turn within a matter of minutes and Kings XI will hope it does, especially with quality foreign willowers in the side who have been misfiring consistently for the last few weeks. But with spin-twins Brad Hogg and Sunil Narine bowling in tandem, it will be difficult belting them away.
The only thing that has worked for the Kings XI are their two bowlers up front Sandeep Sharma and Anureet Singh. Both have been able to pick wickets regularly. However, their mettle will be tested when they come up against the likes of Robin Uthappa and Yusuf Pathan who have been in quite brilliant form off late.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Piyush Chawla, Yusuf Pathan, Umesh Yadav, Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Veer Pratap Singh, Kuldeep Yadav, Sumit Narwal, Sheldon Jackson, Aditya Garhwal, K.C. Cariappa, Vaibhav Rawal, Manish Pandey, Morne Morkel, Pat Cummins, Ryan ten Doeschate, Andre Russell, Brad Hogg, Azhar Mahmood, Johan Botha.
Kings XI Punjab: George Bailey (captain), Virender Sehwag, Murali Vijay, Wriddhiman Saha, Shaun Marsh, David Miller, Glenn Maxwell, Rishi Dhawan, Manan Vohra, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Thisara Perera, Mitchell Johnson, Anureet Singh, Karanveer Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Shivam Sharma, Parvinder Awana, Akshar Patel, Yogesh Gowalkar, Beuran Hendricks, Shardul Thakur.