Calcutta: Chris Lynn’s amazing catch helped Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) sneak past Royal Challengers Bangalore at Sharjah on Thursday. But captain Gautam Gambhir must be well aware that they need to buck up, especially when they are set to face the marauding pair of Glenn Maxwell and David Miller of Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) at Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
Sure enough Gambhir has found a touchstone in the young Lynn and would be eager to stop the Punjab team in their tracks. The 24-year-old Australian’s performance with the bat, and then that stunner of a catch, has helped add confidence to the KKR camp.
Gambhir, though, would also be concerned with his own form. With three consecutive ducks under his belt, it is time for KKR captain Gambhir to perform with the bat. And if he returns to form on Saturday, then the timing will be just perfect.
The two teams go into Saturday’s game on the back of contrasting wins. While KKR managed a two-run last-ball victory in a match that could have well gone the other way, KXIP thrashed Sunrisers Hyderabad by 72 runs.
For the record, the Kolkata outfit have won two and lost one game so far, and would like to remain on the winning side. They are, at present, fourth on the points table.
KXIP, on the other hand, have posted convincing victories in all their three matches so far in IPL VII and are comfortably placed at the top of the points table (six from three matches).
Maxwell has been in supreme touch for KXIP and has become a terror for the bowlers in this tournament. He has hit the ball out of the park at will, and has been instrumental in his team’s victories.
With 279 runs at an incredible average of 93, Maxwell has hit an astonishing 17 sixes and 28 fours in three matches so far in an amazing display of power-hitting.
But on Saturday, he will be up against Sunil Narine, who is also having a rather memorable tournament. The West Indian spinner has cast his web to not only be economical but pick up wickets at crucial times too.
Depending on their breakthroughs and the way KKR manage their bowling, it would be a fascinating contest between the bat and the ball — with Maxwell and Miller on one side and Narine and pacer Morne Morkel on the other.
KKR also have veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis and his talent and experience will come in handy against the Punjab side, who are riding high at the moment.
On the other hand, KXIP have Virender Sehwag in their ranks and the KKR bowlers should be aware that Sehwag is only too keen to make an impact. With a 30-run knock in his last match, Sehwag is gradually getting back to form.
For KKR bowlers, even if they get rid of Sehwag and Maxwell, they will still have to deal with the explosive South African Miller.
Meanwhile, KKR coach Trevor Bayliss has credited adventurer Mike Horn for the team's performance.
“We had Horn with us before the competition started and one of the things that he spoke about is to always give yourself a chance. He has spoken about that in the last couple of years and it worked out very well for us,” Bayliss said.