KKR desperate for a smooth ride in day match

Kolkata Knight Riders lost the reverse fixture to Kings XI Punjab at the Eden Gardens and has since won only two of its last five fixtures.

Chris Gayle and K. L. Rahul form a formidable opening pair capable of winning matches on their own.   -  K. R. Deepak

Three weeks ago, when Kolkata Knight Riders hosted Kings XI Punjab at the Eden Gardens, it had rained so much that the game had to be decided by the DLS method. Such a scenario looks unlikely here, with the temperature hovering above 40° Celsius.

With a 4 p.m. kick-off, much of the match would have to be played in hot and humid conditions. The visitor might find something else besides the weather that could be too hot to handle: the KXIP opening pair.

It is almost as if Chris Gayle won’t murder you, K. L. Rahul will, as KKR has already found out. They had added 116 inside 10 overs to take KXIP home in that match at Kolkata. Dinesh Karthik’s men must be putting their faith in the saying that lightning doesn’t strike twice.

Read: Rahul India’s best batsman after Kohli, says Karnataka’s Ranji coach

For, they cannot afford a similar outcome this weekend. They are desperate for a win after their back-to-back losses to Mumbai Indians.

To do that, they have to do a lot better than what they did in their last home match, in which they were thrashed by 102 runs. With just three matches remaining, they have to strike form right away if they want to keep their playoff chances alive.

 

At the time of filing this report, they were fifth in the table with five wins from 11 games. R. Ashwin’s men were placed significantly better, with six wins from 10.

But, they would be keen to put behind them the loss in their last match to Rajasthan Royals at Jaipur, despite Rahul unbeaten 95 off 70 balls. The Karnataka opener has now 471 runs, while Gayle has 311.

But, the middle-order has been a cause for concern for KXIP, though coach Brad Hodge played it down when he talked to reporters. “I think everyone in the middle-order is actually hitting the ball very well and we just need to complement those two at the top,” he said.

He added he was pleased with his bowling attack, spearheaded by spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman and pacer Andrew Tye. A little earlier, fellow-Australian and batting coach of KKR, Simon Katich, had sounded confident, too. “I expect the boys to bounce back pretty hard,” he said.

For that, KKR needs runs from the likes of Karthik, Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn and Robin Uthappa, especially on a wicket where all the teams batting first have won in the IPL. Wrist spinners Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav could have important roles to play, too.

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