Kolkata Knight Riders take on Gujarat Lions in the season’s first return fixture at Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
Having won four of five matches including a current streak of three in a row; hosts Kolkata Knight Riders would look to continue their winning streak when they face struggling Gujarat Lions.
Gujarat Lions, who stormed into the play-offs in their debut season last year; languish at the bottom of the points table with a solitary victory from five matches. If they lose another match, Gujarat will be staring at elimination from the play-offs race.
This is the second time the two teams will be facing off against one another. The last time they met at Rajkot, the Knight Riders openers had blown away the Lions’ bowlers. KKR had inflicted a 10 wicket win riding on an unbeaten opening stand between Chris Lynn and Gautam Gambhir.
Sunil Narine has taken three wickets in KKR’s hat-trick of wins at an outstanding economy rate of 4.75. The clutch trio of Robin Uthappa, Yusuf Pathan and Manish Pandey has each hit match-winning fifties. Gautam Gambhir continues to lead shrewdly and the late introduction of pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile has given the bowling a much-needed edge.
In contrast, Gujarat have struggled to pick a match-winning XI. They’ve backed four overseas batsman in hopes of big totals at the expense of not playing James Faulkner even once; and that hasn’t worked. They’ve tried Munaf Patel, which hasn’t worked. Only Andrew Tye and Basil Thampi have been somewhat of a bright spots with good spells.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Trent Boult might not make it to the side for this game as Nathan Coulter-Nile had impressed big time on his debut for the franchise in the last game. Chris Woakes and Umesh Yadav will continue to have their spots in the pace department. Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav have been decent in their performances for the Knight Riders thus far. The batting needs no modifications as most of the batsmen have been amongst the runs.
The team might get tempted to field all-rounder James Faulkner. This could add stability to their bowling lineup. Faulkner is likely to walk in the side at the expense of Dwayne Smith. Dhawal Kulkarni has not been at his best thus far and might well be replaced by Praveen Kumar in the lineup. Aaron Finch can walk in the opening slot along with Brendon McCullum.
Head to Head :
Matches – 3
Kolkata Knight Riders – 1, Gujarat Lions – 2
Kolkata Knight Riders – Sunil Narine, Gautam Gambhir(c), Robin Uthappa(w), Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, Shakib Al Hasan, Chris Woakes, Kuldeep Yadav, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Umesh Yadav.
Gujarat Lions – Aaron Finch, Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina(c), James Faulkner, Ishan Kishan, Dinesh Karthik(w), Ravindra Jadeja, Andrew Tye, Praveen Kumar, Basil Thampi, Shivil Koushik.