KKR looks to keep the momentum going against SRH

The absence of the Gambhir’s opening partner Chris Lynn, who injured his shoulder during a fielding effort in the team’s outing against Mumbai Indians, is a cause of concern.

Sunrisers Hyderabad players attend a practice session in Kolkata on Friday.   -  PTI

 

Kolkata Knight Riders will seek to preserve the momentum in its hunt for the second successive win at home when it meets the defending champion Sunrisers Hyderabad here at the Eden Gardens on Saturday. What would keeping the host buoyant ahead of the encounter is the batting form of its captain Gautam Gambhir, who is currently leading the tournament batting stats with 167 runs constructed in three innings.

The absence of the Gambhir’s opening partner Chris Lynn, who injured his shoulder during a fielding effort in the team’s outing against Mumbai Indians, is a cause of concern. But that was in some way dispelled by the surprise ascendancy of off-spinner Sunil Narine as a batsman in the spot vacated by the Australian. “His (Narine’s) nickname is the all-rounder now. Hopefully he continues (to bat) that way,” assistant coach Simon Katich said of Narine’s 18-ball 37 against Kings XI Punjab that provided the impetus to Kolkata’s eight-wicket win the previous evening.

The praise that Katich heaped on Narine stemmed from the confidence of seeing the West Indies player perform a lot with the bat in Australia’s Big Bash League that preceded the IPL. While Narine’s new role is celebrated in the team, Gambhir is the real pivot the propelled KKR to two successful chases (it lost the other match against MI batting first) so far.

The KKR bowling, which is considered the strength of the team, has so far been overshadowed by the batting exposition of Gambhir, who paired with Lynn for a record unbeaten opening partnership of 184 against Gujarat Lions (at Rajkot).

Umesh Yadav, who played his first match of the current IPL season against KXIP, has really added to the strength of KKR with a four-wicket haul in the previous match.

Bowling is likely to be the determining factor on a re-laid Eden pitch and this will give Sunrisers a lot of hope because of a nice balance in its bowling attack. Pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Purple Cap) and Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan occupy the top two spot in the bowling stats with seven and six wickets in their kitty.

“This afternoon game will be a bonus as it will rule out the dew factor. We unfortunately could not cope with it in Mumbai,” SRH coach Tom Moody said, while hoping for a keen contest against the former champion. David Warner, the Australian batsman leading the visiting team, is in good form (third in the batting stats aggregating 139 runs) and will be another big factor keeping Sunrisers Hyderabad hopeful about a positive result.