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regular-article-logo Friday, 14 June 2024
brisk start crucial to success

IPL 2023: For Kolkata Knight Riders, win must in revival run

Knights are desperately trying to resurrect their campaign in second leg following Wednesday’s victory in Bangalore

Indranil Majumdar Calcutta Published 29.04.23, 07:01 AM
Tim Southee of Kolkata Knight Riders during practice at Eden Gardens on Friday, ahead of their match against Gujarat Titans.

Tim Southee of Kolkata Knight Riders during practice at Eden Gardens on Friday, ahead of their match against Gujarat Titans. Sanat Kumar Sinha

Long after the players had retreated into the dressing room and dusk settled on the Eden green, Kolkata Knight Riders head coach Chandrakant Pandit walked up to have another close look at the wicket. The last bit of rolling was still in progress as the ground staff prepared to put the covers on.

The Knights are desperately trying to resurrect their campaign in the second leg following Wednesday’s victory in Bangalore. But this was not how it was supposed to be.

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Twenty days ago, Rinku Singh produced a miracle in Ahmedabad, scoring 31 runs in the last over, which left Gujarat Titans gutted. While the Titans recovered from that demoralising loss to be now placed second on the table, KKR slipped, losing four matches on the trot. They need to win at least five of their remaining six matches to harbour hopes of making the playoffs.

Gujarat Titans’ Wriddhiman Saha on Friday.

Gujarat Titans’ Wriddhiman Saha on Friday. Sanat Kumar Sinha

Erratic bowling and an inconsistent top order have been primarily responsible for KKR’s debacle. An unsettled opening combination, during which the team management experimented with six pairs in eight matches, also led to their woes.

The 17 wickets they’ve lost are the most by any team in the Powerplay this season, a sign of their top-order rustiness.

Jason Roy’s arrival seems to have changed things drastically. They finally seem to have settled on Roy and Nar­ayan Jagadeesan as openers. The pair stitched together their highest stand of 83, including 66 in the first six overs, against RCB.

Roy is among the few English batters, who can dominate against the spinners.

If the Titans are aiming to stifle him by using Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad, they could be in for a surprise. A solid start always makes the task of the other batters much easier and the likes of Venkatesh Iyer, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell and Rinku will be waiting to revel in such a scenario.

Another encouraging news for KKR could be the return of Shardul Thakur.

Today’s match

■ Kolkata Knight Riders vs Gujarat Titans, 3.30pm, Eden Gardens, live on Star Sports & Jio Cinema

Strike rate matters for Saha

Calcutta: Wriddhiman Saha’s numbers so far in this IPL aren’t extraordinary. However, his focus, he categorically mentioned, has been on getting the Gujarat Titans off to a quick start instead of his individual score.

“Strike rate matters more to me than my individual score. If I can give the team some sort of momentum, I’m happy. It’s good if I get a 50 or a 70, but even a 10- ball 25 may come in handy,” the Titans wicketkeeper-batter said on Saturday, the eve of their clash against Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens.

Saturday’s game against the Knights will be Saha’s second IPL appearance at the Eden since he severed ties with Bengal last year. “Well, Calcutta is the place where I stay while I’ve played many matches here at the Eden.

“But at present, the Motera (in Ahmedabad) is my home since I’m playing for Gujarat Titans. Conditions are different in the two venues, but my focus will be to make sure we continue with our momentum,” Saha said.

Litton leaves

KKR’s Bangladeshi wicket­keeper-batter Litton Das left for home early on Friday owing to an urgent family medical emergency, the franchise said in a statement. In his debut IPL, Litton made just one appearance for the Knights in the game ag­ainst Delhi Capitals last week.

A STAFF REPORTER

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