About the Match
The IPL caravan finally moves to the home of Cricket in India, Eden Gardens, Cricket. Kolkata Knight Riders will host Kings XI Punjab that has surprised one and all with its fearless approach. Kings XI Punjab has registered two victories in two games, both clinically. Kolkata Knight Riders has won one game and lost one. Chris Lynn was a big factor in both the victories and his absence will hurt Kolkata Knight Riders.
This will be the first match at Eden Gardens in this year's IPL and no one really knows what pitch is going to behave like. Usually, Eden Gardens' pitch is slow with even pace and bounce. The unpredictability of the pitch will tempt captains to field first and this might well be backed by the fact that more teams have won chasing in this IPL than the teams that have batted first.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Going into the first home match of the season, KKR is going to be hit by a bug which no team has survived until now in this IPL. Chris Lynn, on of the leading run-scorers of the tournament got injured in an attempt to take a catch in the previous game. Although, his replacements are available in Colin de Grandhomme and Shakib al Hasan, his form and hitting ability at the top of the order will be missed.
Lynn's absence will mean that the regular old pair of Gambhir and Uthappa will return to the top. Batting hasn't been all good after Gambhir and Lynn pair. Barring Gambhir and Pandey, no on really stayed at the wicket and scored runs. The arrival of Shakib al Hasan will boost the batting as well as the confidence of KKR who looked in all sorts of trouble after Lynn injury.
KKR has been following a simple strategy from years; Bat first, scores big totals and let the spin of Kuldeep and Narine weave its magic. It could be pretty different now as Sunil Narine hasn't looked as deceptive has he was a couple of years ago. Kuldeep Yadav is still growing into his career. Umesh Yadav is expected to make a comeback and will replace Ankit Rajpoot if that happens. Overall, KKR appears to be a well-balanced unit, but the form of their batsmen will be a cause for concern. If their batsmen get going, they certainly will be in for a real chance against the table-toppers.
Likely Starting XI:
Gautam Gambhir (c) - Robin Uthappa - Manish Pandey - Yusuf Pathan - Shakib al Hasan - Surya Kumar Yadav - Chris Woakes - Kuldeep Yadav - Sunil Narine - Trent Boult - Umesh Yadav
Kings XI Punjab
Right from the bottom of the table to the top has been the story of Kings XI Punjab from last year's IPL. Kings XI Punjab has more or less the same team as last year, but they've looked to be an altogether different outfit. They've stuck to a plan to set a platform with Amla, Vohra, Saha and Axar before the likes of Maxwell, Miller and Stoinis launch into the opponents.
Maxwell and Amla have been in terrific touch, but the lack of form at the top of the order means that the onus will be on Amla, Maxwell, and Miller to deliver the goods. They've been successful so far, but they'll be hoping for Saha and Vohra to join the party.
Their bowling has nicely complemented their batting with Sandeep and Mohit excellent at the top. Sandeep Sharma has swung the ball and has picked up wickets upfront. In the middle overs, the slower ones of Stoinis along with the spin of Axar has done the job perfectly so far. Death bowling has been a department to worry about as both the Sharmas were carted for runs in the final overs in the previous game. Despite issues with death bowling, we do not see them making any changes to their team.
Likely Starting XI:
Hashim Amla - Manan Vohra - Wridhimann Saha - Axar Patel - Glenn Maxwell - David Miller - Marcus Stoinis - Sandeep Sharma - Mohit Sharma - Varun Aaron - T Natarajan
The Numbers Game
- KKR is on a winning streak against KXIP. It has won seven games on the trot. Only RCB has won more games against one side conscutively, that is, eight against Delhi.
- Umesh Yadav has bagged three MoM awards against KXIP. This is most by a bowlers against a team in IPL history.
Eden Gardens hasn't been so lucky for Kings XI Punjab as they've lost six out of eight games played here. But, they've played and won against the odds in the first two matches and we might well see the same thing happening. KKR, on the other hand, has done extremely well in these conditions. Injury to Lynn and Kings XI Punjab's batting form makes Kings XI Punjab as favorites for this match