IPL 10: KKR takes on KXIP in first home game

With uncertainty over Chris Lynn’s availability for the rest of the tournament, KKR is back in business for its first home engagement against KXIP on Thursday.

KXIP’s mentor Virender Sehwag with captain Glenn Maxwell at a practice session on the eve of the IPL match against KKR.   -  PTI

As a question mark hangs over Chris Lynn’s availability for the rest of the tournament, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) is back in business for its first home engagement against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) at the Eden Gardens here on Thursday in the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

KKR received a massive boost when it rode on the record unbeaten opening partnership of 184 runs between Lynn and captain Gautam Gambhir. The partnership helped the side cruise to a 10-wicket win over Gujarat Lions (GL) in its first match at Rajkot.

The loss to Mumbai, even after setting a target of 179 runs — thanks to Manish Pandey's blazing unbeaten 81 — may be disappointing though. KKR lost the plot by giving away 50 runs in the last three overs. Ankit Rajpoot, who claimed three wickets in the match, experienced the bitter side of bowling in the death. On the other hand, New Zealander Trent Boult struggled to make his mark. Sloppy fielding in the final over made matters worse.

KKR would be happy to welcome pacer Umesh Yadav back from fitness issues. It would also love to see Englishman Chris Woakes rise to the expectation and the spinners, including Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav, carry on their good work.

KXIP is in buoyant mood after nailing two emphatic wins in a row.

With Virender Sehwag as the mentor and Glenn Maxwell as the captain, freedom of expression is the right of every player.

“Both have told us to play freely without thinking much… In our setup we have been told that anyone can bat anywhere,” said KXIP’s Wriddhiman Saha.

Saha said that KXIP is following the successful module it followed three years ago.

"When we played in Dubai, we played with a free mind without any individual planning or thinking in the initial three-four matches. We could take forward that momentum and play the final. We are trying to do that this year as well. "

With the reliable Hashim Amla and in-form Manan Vohra at the top and the devastating Maxwell and David Miller in the middle, KXIP’s batting looks to be in terrific touch.

The team’s pace department, consisting of Sandeep Sharma, Varun Aaron and Australian Marcus Stoinis, has the variety to trouble any side.

The pitch, which staged some low-scoring Vijay Hazare Trophy matches, may offer a few surprises when KKR and KXIP test their strength under lights.