The come-from-behind win over Sunrisers Hyderabad last week was certainly a lifeline for the Kolkata Knight Riders. That was a must-win game, the first of many they need if they are to stay in the race for playoffs.
The Knights now need to cash in on that lifeline and ensure they pull in their weight so that they can tame Punjab Kings in Monday’s clash at Eden Gardens. Both teams would also be having an eye on the sky as there’s a forecast of rain on Monday.
The win over the Sunrisers in Hyderabad, and that too in a pressure-cooker situation, was definitely a morale-booster for the Knight Riders. But first and foremost, Nitish Rana and his teammates need to get it right with the bat.
Unless there’s a last-moment injury or the team management has yet another new opening combination in mind, Jason Roy and Rahmanullah Gurbaz ought to be the pair upfront. If both of them are able to connect, the Knight Riders have a great opportunity to make optimum use of the Powerplay.
Much will depend on Knights’ opener — Rahmanullah Gurbaz. Sanat Kr Sinha
It’s imperative for Roy to click as the team’s batting revolves mainly around him. And if Roy gets his hits right, it will be a tough time for the shaky Punjab bowling attack.
At the same time, an interesting battle could be on the cards if Punjab bring Kagiso Rabada back in their XI to strengthen their bowling.
Hardly any of Punjab’s bowlers, including Arshdeep Singh and Sam Curran, have been consistent enough in the ongoing edition.
In a nutshell, Punjab’s bowling is a concern and that’s the area the Knight Riders should be looking to exploit on a good batting wicket, which is also a bit on the drier side, at the Eden.
The likes of Rinku Singh, Andre Russell and Sunil Narine had been practising and trying to perfect the scoop shot in Saturday’s training session.
That bit of preparation aside, the KKR batters need to be a little more judicious in terms of shot selection, which too has broughtabout their downfall in the previous games.
If the batters do their job properly, the load should certainly get lighter for the Knight Riders bowlers.
One has to admit that Shikhar Dhawan and his Kings have been a better-performing unit than at least than the Aiden Markram-led Sunrisers, although they go into the game following a defeat to Mumbai Indians at home.
Captain Dhawan is due for a big one, while his opening partner Prabhsimran Singh, the in-form Liam Livingstone, all-rounder Curran and keeper-batter Jitesh Sharma will not be making it any easier for the KKR bowlers.
Spin-wise though, Varun Chakravarthy and Suyash Sharma are far more reliable weapons than Punjab’s Rahul Chahar and Harpreet Brar.
Even Anukul Roy didn’t do a bad job with his left-arm spin in the narrow win over the Sunrisers, picking up the key scalp of Harry Brook.
Skipper Rana, though, has to make sure he doesn’t delay again in bringing the spinners on, something that almost cost the Knights the last game. There’s no room for error at this stage.