Knights look to dare the Devils

Led by an aggressive Gautam Gambhir, Kolkata Knight Riders recorded emphatic wins in its last two outings of the Indian Premier League and would love to carry on its good form against Delhi Daredevils at the Eden Gardens on Friday.

Delhi Daredevils coach Rahul Dravid (left) and skipper Zaheer Khan take a look at the Eden Gardens wicket in Kolkata on Thursday.   -  PTI

Led by an aggressive Gautam Gambhir, Kolkata Knight Riders recorded emphatic wins in its last two outings of the Indian Premier League and would love to carry on its good form against Delhi Daredevils at the Eden Gardens on Friday.

Gambhir’s captaincy skills came to the fore in KKR’s astonishing 84-run victory over Bangalore Royal Challengers in a low-scoring thriller at home and then a comprehensive seven-wicket away win over Rising Pune Supergiant on Wednesday.

Gambhir deserves a major share of the credit for his team’s tactical excellence. He has handled several key aspects—such as fielding spinner-dominated and pacer-dominated attacks according to conditions, rotation of bowlers and field placement—exceedingly well to control key moments on the field and guide KKR to favourable results.

KKR has suffered occasionally due to its lax bowling, against Gujarat Lions, or below par batting, against RCB, but has bounced back from difficult situations with a show of character.

The two-time champion owes most of its success to the destructive batsmen, including Robin Uthappa, Yusuf Pathan and Manish Pandey, in its line-up. It has got further boost due to Gambhir’s fine knock against RPS.

KKR’s balanced attack—decorated with match-winners such as Umesh Yadav, Chris Woakes and Nathan Coulter-Nile in the pace department and Narine, Kuldeep Yadav (who made a huge impact in Pune by claiming two important wickets in the 18th over) and Piyush Chawla in spin—has served the side well and helped it reach the top with six wins.

Having outsmarted DD in a nail-biting affair at the Ferozshah Kotla, KKR, which is in the midst of a hectic schedule, will be confident of another memorable performance against the Zaheer Khan-led outfit.

DD has displayed some dashing batting performances with significant contributions from youngsters like Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson. It has also got a sound pace attack, including Chris Morris, Pat Cummins, Zaheer Khan and Mohammed Shami, and a few experienced spinners, such as Amit Mishra and Shahbaz Nadeem.

DD, which has lost a bit of momentum by facing defeat in three consecutive matches, needs to make the optimum use of its resources to climb up the ladder.