Sink or sail, onus on Kolkata Knight Riders batters
The T20 format is understandably the most unpredictable one in cricket. With the margin of error being thin, anything can happen on a day. But while that often helps the underdogs surprise the more fancied teams, it also means that what happened in the last game carries little significance on a match day.
The Kolkata Knight Riders managed to wriggle out of their five-match losing streak when they outplayed Rajasthan Royals in their last game. But will that keep them in a better place when they take on Lucknow Super Giants in Pune on Saturday? That’s debatable.
For the Knights, the problem is that they cannot afford to lose any of their remaining games if they harbour hopes of making the IPL 2022 play-offs. Languishing at the eighth spot with just 8 points, they are already at a distance from the top half of the table.
Lucknow though have no such worries at the moment, sitting on the second spot of the points table with 14 points. One more win and they would have one foot in the play-offs for sure.
So what do the Knights need to do to emerge victorious in their 11th game? The list is long.
For starters, they need to have a good start with the bat. Lucknow have a strong and varied bowling attack, and if they manage to make early inroads, they might just run through the Knights’ batting line-up.
But it is hard to pin expectations on the Knights’ openers. The team has tried five different opening pairs this IPL with not one of them producing desired results. The team’s average opening stand of 14.40 is worst among the 10 teams.
Without a good start it will be very difficult for the Knights to tackle a bowling line-up that sports Dushmantha Chameera, Mohsin Khan, Jason Holder, Krunal Pandya and Ravi Bishnoi. There is no clarity if Lucknow will have the services of Avesh Khan on Saturday as he missed the last game with an injury. But if he plays, that bowling attack would look even more intimidating.
The Knights will also hope that Nitish Rana and Rinku Singh carry their good form with the bat from the last match into this game. It is needless to say that captain Shreyas Iyer remains their biggest hope in batting.
Unlike the Knights’ wobbly opening pair, Lucknow have captain KL Rahul and the dangerous Quinton de Kock as their openers. Rahul is in ominous form and if the Knights’ bowlers can’t get rid of him early, their chances will fade away quickly. Problem is, the Knights’ bowlers, barring Sunil Narine and Umesh Yadav to some extent, haven’t quite had an impact this season.
The Knights need to dig deep to overpower Lucknow. Anything less and the story might be over for them.