The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) return to their base at the Eden Gardens to host the Gujarat Titans (GT) with their play-off hopes still intact after a comfortable victory in Bengaluru. The Gujarat Titans (GT), for their part, are looking every bit like defending champions and are yet to lose a game away from Ahmedabad in 2023.
In the reverse fixture this season, KKR produced one of the greatest IPL comebacks of all time, with Rinku Singh taking a dead and buried game by the scruff of its neck and hitting five sixes off five balls in the last over to notch an unforgettable win. The match also saw excellent contributions from Venkatesh Iyer and Nitish Rana for KKR, while Rashid Khan was his usual unflappable self with the ball, grabbing the first hat-trick of IPL 2023.
Before KKR and GT go at it again in IPL 2023, My Kolkata identifies the key battles that will separate the winners from the losers
Jason Roy versus Mohammed Shami
Jason Roy has injected fresh vigour into KKR’s batting over the past couple of weeks
Promoted to the opening slot in KKR’s last fixture, Roy should stay there, for that is where he can do the most damage. His free-scoring nature will be difficult to put a lid on unless he is dismissed early, which is precisely what Mohammed Shami will try to ensure. The GT pacer has defied concerns around form and fitness to pick up 10 wickets so far this term, and will be looking to beat Roy for both pace as well as swing.
Rinku Singh versus Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan will be eager to not just contain but also dismiss Rinku Singh when the two lock horns in Kolkata
The two star performers from the same fixture earlier this season can hopefully get more time to pit their skills against each other in Kolkata than they did in Ahmedabad. With Rinku becoming increasingly important for the hosts, Rashid will be looking to eliminate the southpaw instead of merely containing him. The short straight boundaries at Eden, which Rinku will invariably target, will not help the Afghan maestro’s cause. However, if anyone can rise against the odds under pressure, then it is the man who has already got 14 wickets to his name this season.
Shubman Gill versus Sunil Narine
Sunil Narine holds the psychological edge over Shubman Gill after getting the latter out in the reverse fixture
Gill has enjoyed a steady season for GT so far, without doing too much in the way of the spectacular. The same can be said for the 39 runs he scored against KKR in Ahmedabad. On his return to Eden, though, GT’s accumulator-in-chief will target a big score, which means he will, at some stage, have to navigate Sunil Narine. Nobody (outside KKR) knows who won these battles in the nets in the years gone by, but Narine drew first blood by dismissing Gill earlier this year. More decisive shot-selection and a commitment to not hitting against the spin should be top of Gill’s agenda this time when facing his former teammate.