It would be a clash of big bats and bigger reputations when two-time champion Kolkata Knight Riders take on an upbeat host Kings XI Punjab in the ninth edition of the IPL here on Tuesday.
Having notched up its first win of the season against Rising Pune Supergiants, KXIP would be hoping to come good once again in front of home fans. However, the conditions would be vastly different with the match being played in the evening while the previous game was a day match in 40 degrees heat.
While KKR has won two of its three games so far including a dominant batting display in an eight wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in its previous game, Kings XI had its own show of batting might in the six-wicket win against Pune.
The opening pair for both sides have been their biggest strength and while KKR has relied on Gautam Gambhir-Robin Uthappa to give them the initial push, the Murali Vijay-Manan Vohra combination has been consistently doing well for KXIP. It is in the middle that the difference in teams crops up.
KXIP skipper David Miller must be a relieved man after Australian Glenn Maxwell finally came good against Pune. KKR would now be hoping for its own big-hitting middle order of Andre Russell, Yusuf Pathan and Manish Pandey — not really tested so far with Gambhir, currently the top-scorer, and Uthappa doing the bulk of scoring — comes good.
KKR has lost John Hastings, who has flown back due to an ankle injury, and is in the process of getting a replacement, said assistant coach Katich.
KKR's lone defeat to defending champion Mumbai Indians was more due to a rampaging Rohit Sharma than any lack of effort with the bat by KKR.
That said, its bowling hasn't really been as effective as Gambhir would like. Russell has been off target and Umesh Yadav hasn't been lethal enough. The lack of bowling options was exposed against Mumbai and Gambhir would be hoping that, on a pitch that has something for the bowlers while also helping the batsmen, his bowling unit comes good.
Among the KXIP bowling resources, both Mohit Sharma and Sandeep Sharma have bowled within their strengths to make an impact though the spinners have been less than effective. That would be a concern given the quality of batsmen against slow bowlers in KKR ranks.
The visitor definitely has the bigger names in its ranks but with reputations counting for little in the format and the competition, the least the audience can expect would be a run feast at the PCA stadium.
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