IPL Qualifier 2, KKR vs SRH: The knockout punch!

The purple brigade rested adequately on Thursday to be in perfect shape; Sunrisers, however, didn’t skip its training session.

Kane Williamson (left) and Dinesh Karthik at the final league game between KKR and SRH at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad last week.   -  K.V.S. GIRI

Kolkata Knight Riders has to play two matches in three days. It will not mind playing three in five in order to make it to the Indian Premier League final after four years.

After clearing the first play-off hurdle against Rajasthan Royals, KKR is focused on overcoming Sunrisers Hyderabad in Qualifier 2 at the Eden Gardens here on Friday.

The purple brigade rested adequately on Thursday to be in perfect shape for another contest that may get the adrenaline going.

KKR is fortunate to have a leader in Dinesh Karthik, who can be easily clubbed in the 'Captain Cool' club — comprising M.S. Dhoni and Kane Williamson.

 

Karthik has not only excelled in marshalling his limited resources, but has also led by example as a finisher.

He never lost his cool after a crushing defeat, nor got ecstatic following a sensational win. His faith in his players has done the trick for the side.

READ: Williamson praises SRH bowlers after two-wicket loss to CSK

If pace bowling was an area of concern, then Karthik trusted in his experienced spin trio to achieve results.

The KKR skipper backed young pacers Prasidh Krishna and Shivam Mavi, and batsman Shubman Gill to get the best out of them.

Karthik's support to the proven performers, including Andre Russell, Chris Lynn and Kuldeep Yadav, during their lean patches has benefited KKR. Now, the team is not solely dependent on all-rounder Sunil Narine, who has served KKR the best this season.

SRH can match KKR in handling pressure.

ALSO READ: KKR has shown character, says Katich

Featuring the composure of a stoic, captain Williamson, the highest run-getter of the tournament, motivates others — including destructive batsmen like Shikhar Dhawan, Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan — with his own performance.

Williamson knows how to make the optimum use of the 'best bowling attack' — studded with Siddharth Kaul, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shakib Al Hasan, Rashid Khan and Sandeep Sharma — at his disposal. Defending a modest 139, SRH had almost stifled the Chennai Super Kings batsmen before losing the first qualifier due to the electrifying performance of Faf du Plessis.

KKR and SRH have won their respective away contests while locking horns in the league stage.

The knockout tussle at the Eden, which is expected to be packed to its capacity, will be a different ball game though.