New Delhi: The Kolkata Knight Riders' return fixture against struggling Gujarat Lions is being billed as one the mismatches of the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) season. But the encounter, as in other clashes, will have a host of star players showcasing their skills.
Here are four players who are likely to play match winning roles today:
1. Gautam Gambhir: The skipper is the lynchpin of KKR batting. He started the tournament with a bang, scoring an undefeated 76 against the Lions. But the left-handed opener could manage to produce only one other knock of importance, 72 not out against Kings XI Punjab. He has failed against the Mumbai Indians, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Daredevils, even as the team went on to win the last two fixtures.
The 35-year-old will hope to contribute with the bat and complete a double against last year's table toppers. A good knock from him at the top order will allow a batting-heavy side like KKR to go berserk late in the innings, whether setting a target or chasing one.
2. Sunil Narine: Another KKR player who is likely to make an impact is West Indian 'all-rounder' Sunil Narine. The offspinner from Arima has always been a threat with his 'mystery' deliveries, but so far this season, he's been quiet. Four wickets in four matches is not what the team wants from the 28-year-old.
But Narine has surprised everyone with his hitting ability. After Chris Lynn's unavailability, he was being sporadically used as an opener. And results have made been good. Expect KKR to utilise the 'all-rounder' in dual role once again.
3. Suresh Raina: For the visiting team, how well skipper Suresh Raina performs with the bat will decide their fortunes today. He has been a decent contributor so far, but that will not be enough when the team is fighting for survival. One big knock from the skipper will ease frayed nerves in the team.
Raina has scored 68* vs KKR, 5 vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, 35* vs Rising Pune Supergiant, 28 vs Mumbai Indians and 23 vs Royal Challengers Bangalore. These numbers are not enough from a player who is the second leading scorer in the tournament's history.
Besides, he can contribute with his bowling too.
4. Ravindra Jadeja: The star all-rounder missed the first couple of matches as he was taking a much-needed break after a long home season with the Indian team. But his return to action has so far failed to show any semblance of 'form' that fans have been expecting from the 28-year-old.
In the three matches he has played so far, the spinner has leaked 40 vs RPS, 34 vs Mumbai Indians and 57 against RCB; and he has got only one wicket in his bag so far, that of MS Dhoni in their match against Pune. With the bat, he laboured to 23 off 22 balls against RCB.
But all that can change with a one good showing, and today's match at Eden Gardens may well just proved to be the one.