Gujarat Lions desperate for win against Kolkata Knight Riders

Gujarat Lions would be keen to out-bat Kolkata Knight Riders in order to recover some lost ground.

Manish Pandey has excelled this season with his mature grasp of situations and exemplary show of responsibility.   -  PTI

With 221 runs at an identical average and a 150-plus strike-rate from four innings, Manish Pandey is in astounding form and will hold the key in Kolkata Knight Riders’ home engagement against Gujarat Lions in the Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Eden Gardens on Friday.

Gifted with a range of spectacular shots, Manish has excelled this season with his mature grasp of situations and exemplary show of responsibility. He has turned out to be a finisher-par-excellence with his near-perfect job in the middle order and has contributed significantly in KKR’s glorious march so far.

Manish’s magnificent unbeaten 69 that edged out Delhi Daredevils in the last over is still fresh in the memory of everyone and will inspire the Bengaluru boy against GL.

But KKR, a team on the ascent, is not too dependent on any particular player owing to its depth and balance. With four fascinating wins from five matches, the host will be the overwhelming favourite against a weaker-looking GL, placed at the bottom of the table with just one victory from five.

KKR’s top and middle order – featuring captain Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Manish and Yusuf Pathan – has passed the test and will remain confident to outlast the GL, which had conceded an ignominious 10-wicket defeat in Rajkot.

Still, Yusuf was determined to give an improved showing.

“In the last match, after batting so well I got out, which was a crime. I will try to not repeat the same mistake,” said the explosive batsman.

The variety in KKR’s bowling department is in good stead. If Sunil Narine has emerged as one of the most economical bowlers, then pacers Chris Woakes and Umesh Yadav have delivered the goods in different times. Nathan Coulter-Nile was excellent in his first outing. Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav and leg-spinner Piyush Chawla have chipped in occasionally.

The only area of improvement for KKR is its catching.

Despite its robust batting display, reflected in the performances of Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik, GL has suffered because of its below-par bowling. The team has dismissed more than five wickets of an opposition only once to fetch its lone win against Rising Pune Supergiant.

Factors like Ravindra Jadeja’s lack of success with the ball after his return from injury and all-rounder Dwayne Bravo’s absence, due to a hamstring issue have affected the touring side.

GL would be keen to out-bat KKR in order to recover some lost ground.