After the initial battles, the IPL has now entered an interesting phase where it set to witness teams fight relentlessly for top 4 spots in the knockouts. The Match 41 at the Eden Garden between Kolkata Knight Riders and Rising Pune Supergiants will be the first of the cluster intensely fought contest that the fans are set to experiences over the period next couple of weeks.
KKR is at a critical point despite being the second placed team at the moment. There is a clear division between the top four and the bottom four at the moment. While the wooden spooners RC and DD don’t stand a chance, Kings XI Punjab and Gujarat Lions are feeding off the dim hope of making it to the next level.
Sunrisers have already narrowed the gap to a difference of just one point whereas RPS is preparing to challenge them tomorrow. This makes Gautam Gambhir & Co vulnerable to turnarounds which can push them into a tricky position. They cannot opt to lose any game from here on and must make sure they do not commit the sort of mistakes which helped Sunrisers Hyderabad beat them in their most recent fixture.
KKR have a 1-0 record over RPS this season after having beaten them by 7 wickets at the MCA Stadium, Pune. Gautam Gambhir (62 from 46 balls) and Robin Uthappa (87 from 47 balls) made short work of the 183 runs target set by RPS batting first.
The pair forged 158 runs stand for the 2nd wicket after losing Narine early to give no opportunity for the relatively weaker bowling Pune attack and wrap up the match with 11 balls remaining.
It’s time for Gambhir to send Sunil Narine back to his old comfortable batting position. The ‘pinch hitter’, after tasting initial success has become a free wicket for the opposition bowlers. This hasn’t affected them much as Uthappa has shown his class.
However, it now seems absurd for Gautam to keep Narine at the top and not let Uthappa have to go at the opposition with more freedom rather than coming in one down. Whether Chawla and Shakib al Hasan will be brought will also be a question. Chawla and Kuldeep both played together when KKR played with RPS the last time.
Gambhir did not make any change in his XI for the game against Sunrisers. But, it can be assumed that he may add Chawla in the attack if he chooses to go with a three-man spin attack.
Here is the XI: Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Sheldon Jackson, Chris Woakes, Colin de Grandhomme/Piyush Chawla, Sunil Narine, Nathan Coulter – Nile, Umesh Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav,