IPL 2018: KKR eyes redemption against high-flying SRH

Kolkata Knight Riders will look to get its IPL campaign back on track when it hosts Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday (April 14).

Andre Russell might have an important role to play as the third seamer for Kolkata Knight Riders against Sunrisers Hyderabad.   -  K. R. Deepak

A team's fortunes can change quickly in a fast-paced tournament like the Indian Premier League (IPL). Kolkata Knight Riders began its campaign in emphatic fashion at home against Royal Challengers Bangalore, winning by four wickets. But its bowling was found wanting a couple of nights later, when even a 200-plus total against Chennai Super Kings proved insufficient for a win. 

So, when Kolkata Knight Riders takes on Sunrisers Hyderabad in a home fixture at the Eden Gardens on Saturday, it would be hoping to tighten its weak link, which is its death bowling. Vinay Kumar, a seasoned campaigner, failed to defend 17 runs off the last over and drew heavy flak.

Even though the Knights team management backed the under-fire pacer, the indications are clear that the team will unleash its star Australian recruit, Mitchell Johnson, against the Sunrisers — which clinched a cliff-hanger against Mumbai Indians the other night. Johnson, who missed the trip to Hyderabad owing to ‘slight niggle’, could come in place of Tom Curran — a first-timer who has had a mixed outing on his IPL debut.

Read: Karthik unconcerned by form of pacers

Johnson’s inclusion will bolster Kolkata's bowling attack, which looked out of place on Tuesday night against CSK.

It would also be interesting to see how the Eden Gardens surface behaves in the next couple of games. The tournament opener against Royal Challengers Bangalore was a high-scoring encounter, which Kolkata eventually won. So, as the city predicts spells of shower in the evening of the match, the focus would also be on the pitch.

While bowling remains the major area of concern for the Knights, it would also want its big-hitting Aussie recruit, Chris Lynn, to come good in the crucial tie. Coming in to the competition after recovering from a right shoulder injury, Lynn has managed only 27 runs in the two outings so far.

 

 

Dinesh Karthik, who replaced Gautam Gambhir as the skipper of KKR this season, is being compared with his predecessor, who guided the Knights to two titles in the past. While the social media and a section of cricketing fraternity is already out to find the flaws in Karthik’s captaincy, the Chennai stumper-batsman would be looking to get the house in order, before the going gets difficult. That’s why, the next two home fixtures mean a lot for the Knights.

Sunrisers, on the other hand, is a side brimming with confidence having won its first two games. But as it prepares for the away leg, the only thing it would perhaps want to avoid is making life difficult for itself. In the last fixture against Mumbai Indians saw the side fumbling midway in its chase of 148.

While Deepak Hooda stood firm to guide the Hyderabad outfit to victory against Mumbai, Sunrisers will have to address the middle-order conundrum to survive in the marathon league.

Having Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson in the top slot, the side also has Shakib Al Hasan and Yusuf Pathan in the middle to shore things up should there be a stumble early on. The two, released by Knight Riders this time, will perhaps be hoping to revive their IPL campaigns at the Knights’ den.

But then, for Hyderabad, there is a bit of worry as Bhuvaneshwar Kumar is injured and remains a doubtful starter against Kolkata. The visiting team, which reached Kolkata late on Friday, will count on Rashid Khan to carry his good work from the home fixtures against Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians.

Meanwhile, young pacer and a key member of India's U-19 World Cup winning team, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, did not train with the Kolkata Knight Riders on Friday due to a niggle. This led to speculations that the youngster may not feature in the tournament further, but the Knights team management did not comment on the issue.

With the stage set, its time to lap up some mouth-watering cricket.

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