New Delhi: And yet another opportunity awaits Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to climb atop and seal a play-offs spot for themselves in the 10th season of Indian Premier League (IPL) when they host Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) at Eden Gardens tonight.
Like in the previous seasons, KKR have once again proved their dominance both with the bat and with the ball, however their fielding has indeed been sloppy at times. Regardless of almost everything going in favour of them, the highly-confident Kolkata side crashed when they were struck by the Warner Whirlwind at Hyderabad in their previous match. Definitely a time to regroup and re-plan their strategy, and hopefully gain those crucial two points.
Rising Pune Supergiant seem to have finally gained their momentum in the later half of the tournament after winning five out of last six matches, and they find themselves in the top-half of the table. A reason for delight – with Ben Stokes finally getting that century to pull Pune from 10/3 to a five wicket victory – fans will be expecting a bigger total this time against Kolkata.
Here are the players that will play a pivotal role at tonight's game...
Kolkata Knight Riders
Gambhir-Uthappa partnership: Well, there was one Batman and Robin of the DC comics that swept away any crime or trouble that befell on Gotham City, and here is another pair in the IPL. Not with their cap or mask, but with just their bats, which do all the talking. You put forth spin and then mix-and-match with some paced deliveries, and they will seep each of those through the gaps whistling it to the boundary.
It was only in the last week that the duo together combined to post a 158-run stand against Pune at MCA stadium and washed out all hopes of the home fans as KKR registered a 7-wicket victory.
Nathan Coulter-Nile: Despite joining in late, the Australian pacer has eventually emerged as a potent pacer, especially after he single-handedly dismantled Bengaluru's top-order. Much was also the same when they hosted Delhi Daredevils. And with Eden turning into more of a seamers' pitch, fans will be eagerly waiting for another glimpse of his vicious pace.
Rising Pune Supergiant
Ben Stokes: INR 14.5 crore made the headline soon after the IPL auction with people streaming with hope to see Ben Stokes prove his worth. But a bad start and an early downfall saw the Englishman slip down to being called 'exorbhitant'.
But with each passing game he got better and better until the game against the Gujarat Lions where he proved his brilliance with the bat. Having already won three Man of the Match titles and also said to have found his rhythm, a bigger show is expected from the Englishman.
Rahul Tripathi: Amid discussions about MS Dhoni performance, Steve Smith's captaincy or Stokes' form, there has been one player who has gone unnoticed by the fans, yet has always performed with consistent scores and providing that firm grip in power-play overs. Although starting the season as a No.4 batsman, he was immediately promoted up as an opener after the skipper felt that his aggressive style would complement the classical style of fellow-opener Ajinkya Rahane.