IPL 4: Rattled KKR up against confident CSK
Kolkata: Still smarting from their defeat at the hands of Kochi Tuskers Kerala, Kolkata Knight Riders will have to get their act together soon and come out all guns blazing against defending champions Chennai Super Kings in their IPL return-leg match.
KKR`s three-match winning run came to a halt yesterday, when Kochi defeated the Shah Rukh Khan-owned side by 17 runs.
And with just four more matches left in round robin stage, there is little room for error for KKR, which will be hoping to return to winning ways tomorrow.
Going into tomorrow`s clash at the historic Eden Gardens, there is little difference between the two teams on the points table with both on 12 each. However, CSK have played nine matches compared to KKR`s 10, which have so far proved that they are a team to reckon with
KKR can take heart from the fact that in this edition of the Twenty20 league unlike the first three seasons.
Unlike the first three editions of the Twenty20 league, KKR have been a picture of consistency so far in this tournament.
Both their batting as well as bowling department have clicked as a unit from the onset even as there was an aberration yesterday, against Kerala where their middle-order choke from a winning position.
Even in their loss against Kochi, the KKR found out a bright spot in their English recruit, Eoin Morgan who returned to form with a 51-ball 66-run knock.
It will surely give a lot of confidence to skipper Gautam Gambhir, who promoted Morgan to the opening position along with an in-form Jacques Kallis after the English lefthander was lacklustre in the first-half of the tournament.
Morgan came good finally in a tantalising opening partnership with Kallis to keep KKR in the hunt before the middle-order collapsed to record their second loss at the hands of Kochi.
But Gambhir refused to read much into the defeat and was looking forward to the clash mouth-watering against CSK.
"Winning and losing are part and parcel of the game. You really can`t do much about it. Our boys played well and with little more luck, we could have also won the match (against Kochi)," Gambhir had said.
"About qualifying for the play-offs, till you reach that stage, you are always knocking on the doors of qualification. So, basically you need to play good cricket and try and win matches. It`s as simple as that. You try to move on from here and concentrate on the next match," he insisted.
On second spot in the team standings, KKR definitely would not want to slip from here after having done all the hard work.
Their middle-order comprising Gambhir and Manoj Tiwary would look to strike the right chord while Yusuf Pathan along with Mark Boucher would hope to be clinical with their finishing roles.
On the bowling front, pace spearhead Brett Lee would hope to get his act together after conceding vital 22 runs against Kochi in the last over of the previous match that proved to be the difference in their 17-run loss.
The word, revenge, would also be in the home team`s mind after having lost by a narrow two runs in their previous encounter.
But to achieve this, Gambhir`s men will have to put in a big effort against CSK, who are on a four-match winning streak.
In skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, CSK have a cool and crafty tactician who has the ability to come up with match-changing surprises when the chips are down.
Like KKR, CSK too possess a strong batting line-up with Australian Michael Hussey enjoying prime form.
Suresh Raina, who has 1500 plus IPL runs, half-century against Rajasthan Royals will give Dhoni more reasons to rejoice.
However, CSK`s bowling department continues to be a headache for Dhoni .
In Ravichandran Ashwin, Suraj Randiv and Shadab Jakati, the Chennai outfit have a three-pronged spin attack but the trio has not been that impressive as compared to their KKR counterparts.
Off-spinner Randiv has only managed six wickets in seven games and has gone for more than 7.5 runs an over while left-arm spinner Jakati has been lacklustre but has improved in last four games.
CSK`s pace attack also lacks sting with Australian Doug Bollinger and South African Albie Morkel sharing the new ball.
Too add to it, in sharp contrast to their invincible status at home, where they have an all-win record, Dhoni`s men have been unimpressive as visitors with all their three loss coming in away matches.
And it is something that the KKR think-tank would definitely take note of as the home team have laid out a `fresh` pitch for tomorrow`s game, which is expected to be a belter.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (capt), Jacques Kallis, Eoin Morgan, Manoj Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Mark Boucher, Brett Lee, Rajat Bhatia, Iqbal Abdullah, Sarabjit Ladda, Jaydev Unadkat, Ryan ten Doeschate, James Pattinson, Shakib-al-Hasan, Laxmipathy Balaji, Manvidner Bisla, Shreevats Goswami, Pradeep Sangwan, Shami Ahmed, Laxmi Ratan Shukla.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Michael Hussey, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, Albie Morkel, Subramaniam Badrinath, S Anirudha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Doug Bollinger, Shadab Jakati, Suraj Randiv, Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Bravo, Ben Hilfenhaus, Nuwan Kulasekara, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, George Bailey, Joginder Sharma, Yo Mahesh, Abhinav Mukund, Wriddhiman Saha, Sudeep Tyagi, Ganapathi Vignesh and Kuthethurshri Vasudevadas.