Pertinently, many questioned the removal of Gautam Gambhir when he had given so much to the franchise.
However, the KKR think-tank wanted a fresh change and hence came up with Karthik. It’s only a few months that we have identified a totally different facet in Karthik’s batting.
He was always a pleasant batsman to watch but in the last few months, he has rediscovered his hard-hitting form. He literally starts smashing from the outset which is a major change in his game.
“Feels good to get two wins on the trot. Slowly things are going in a good direction,” Dinesh Karthik said at the post-match presentation ceremony in the previous encounter.
The form of Nitish Rana will boost Kolkata that the middle order is in safe hands with Robin Uthappa. He has also starred with the ball and has taken some crucial wickets. The list eventually includes the prized scalps of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.
Chris Lynn’s form will be a huge concern for Kolkata at the top of the order. He hasn’t delivered according to his potential in the tournament so far which hasn’t really allowed them to get off to quick starts.
Sunil Narine has provided the impetus on occasions but the stability hasn’t been there. However, given the big-hitting prowess, Lynn possess he will continue to be a potential threat to the oppositions.
Sunil Narine had a mediocre day in the previous encounter. The 48 runs conceded by Narine against Rajasthan was the most he has conceded in his Twenty20 career.
While it is normal for any of the spinners to concede 48 in his spell, Narine is of a different stature and he will look to consider that the previous day was an aberration.
On the other hand, Kings XI Punjab has been bolstered by the return of Universe Boss Chris Gayle. He has already made his presence felt with two stunning innings. He wasn’t part of the playing XI in the early stages of the tournament but has already bagged a couple of Man of the Match Awards in as many matches.
The southpaw looked in a great mood during his blazing century against the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in Mohali.
He smashed the No. 1 T20 bowler Rashid Khan for four consecutive sixes. Rashid ended up conceding 58 runs in four overs.
Credit must also go to their newly-appointed leader Ravichandran Ashwin, who has been immensely effective at times. He has made some wonderful decisions which have worked well for Punjab.
The decision to bat first in the previous match proved that he was looking to think differently.
Meanwhile, there are 40% chances of rain at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. It was just a few days ago that Nor’wester affected the city. The conditions are going to be extremely hot and humid which is the case with Kolkata most of the time.
Team Combinations –
Kolkata Knight Riders:
It is highly unlikely that the Knight Riders will employ any changes in the playing XI. This particular XI has given them two wins on a trot and the think tank won’t look to tinker with the winning combination.
Predicted XI: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (c & wk), Andre Russell, Shubman Gill, Tom Curran, Piyush Chawla, Shivam Mavi, Kuldeep Yadav
Kings XI Punjab:
Punjab has also played some good brand of cricket in the tournament so far and won’t look to change their playing XI.
However, there is a case of Manoj Tiwary making a return in place of a Yuvraj Singh.
The southpaw has looked totally out of the touch in this season so far. However, it remains to be seen whether the team management decides to give him one more game.
Both teams are coming off victories in their previous encounters. Kolkata will be playing in front of their home crowd. It will work as an advantage given the fact that the Eden crowd always backs the home team.
KKR will look to cut the Gayle effect and if they manage to do so, Kolkata has a big chance of upstaging Punjab on Saturdar night.