Lucknow Super Giants is a step away from booking a berth in the Indian Premier League playoffs in its debut season. In contrast, Kolkata Knight Riders is a step away from joining five-time champion Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings from being eliminated from the race for the playoffs.

The Super Giants have lost a solitary game in its last five outings whereas the win against Rajasthan Royals in its last game was the Knight Riders’ first in five games. With its back against the wall, it will be interesting to see if the Knight Riders put on yet another impressive performance to repeat their last year’s feat of a late surge in the tournament.

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The Knight Riders, like the Mumbai Indians and the Chennai Super Kings, have struggled to find the right team combination. It reflects in the fact that they have used a whopping 20 players in 10 games so far.

No solid opening pair

Unlike the other two stalwarts, captain Shreyas Iyer and head coach Brendon McCullum haven’t yet found a reliable opening combination. They have tried out five combinations so far but none of them has been able to stitch together a partnership of 50. Knight Riders’ opening average of 14.40 is the lowest among 10 teams.

IPL POINTS TABLE

As a result, the Knight Riders have consistently had an underwhelming Powerplay with the willow. Its scoring rate of 6.76 runs is the lowest in the Powerplay, while it has lost the most wickets - 20 - in the first six overs. On the other hand, Lucknow captain K. L. Rahul’s tally at the top is double the combined tally of all of KKR openers.

And with an on-song Lucknow pace attack, the Knight Riders top order will have its task cut out yet again. Can the middle-order be its saviour yet again?