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IPL 2016: Kings XI Punjab vs Kolkata Knight Riders – Match in Numbers
IPL 2016: Kings XI Punjab vs Kolkata Knight Riders – Match in Numbers
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IPL 2016: Kings XI Punjab vs Kolkata Knight Riders – Match in Numbers

After beating Rising Pune Supergiants at Mohali, Kings XI were high on confidence, on the other hand, Kolkata Knight Riders had done well to win 2 out of their 3 matches.

Except the one match between Royal Challengers and Sunrisers, all the teams chasing have won the match (night games) this IPL and as a result, Gautam Gambhir had no hesitation in putting the Kings XI batsmen on the field after winning the toss.

Murali Vijay and Mana Vohra came in to bat for Kings XI and their team management was expecting them to do well as they did in the previous match. But the bowling line-up of Knight Riders had something else in mind. Morkel provided the early breakthrough by picking up Vohra and no batsman apart from Shaun Marsh really had an answer to the spinners of KKR. In all, Spinners picked up 4 wickets (2 for Narine and 1 each for Chawla and Pathan). Thanks to a 41 ball 56 from Marsh, Kings XI reached the score of 138 in 20 overs.

Coming into the chase, KKR openers have been in tremendous form this season. Gambhir and Uthappa continued their golden run and scored 65 runs in the powerplay alone. Uthappa took the attack and scored a 24 ball 50. He along with Gambhir put up an 82 run stand in 8.3 overs before Uthappa got out. But before getting out, he had ensured a comfortable win for the Knight Riders. Knight Riders batsman played carefully thereafter and sealed a 6 wicket win for the Knight Riders.

Here’s bringing to you all the important numbers and records from this match –

Best bowling unit – Knight Riders bowlers picked up 1 wicket in the powerplay in this match. Totally they have picked up 9 wickets in the powerplay. No other team has taken more than 4 wickets in IPL 2016 so far.

First to 200 – The Orange Cap holder, Gautam Gambhir became the first batsman in IPL 2016 to score 200 runs. He achieved this mark in his 4th match of the season.

Most runs in Powerplay – Kolkata Knight Riders scored 65 at a loss of no wicket in the powerplay i.e. the first 6 overs. This is the highest score so far in IPL 2016. Previous best was by Royal Challengers Bangalore against Delhi Daredevils. They scored 63 at the loss of one wicket.

Golden Pair – Opening stand of 82 runs between Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa was the 8th 50 plus stand while chasing in IPL. Only another pair to do so is Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli for Royal Challengers Bangalore. Both pairs are now tied at 8 fifty plus partnership in chases.

3rd Fastest 50 – 24 ball 50 of Uthappa was not only his 3rd fastest in IPL but also the 3rd fastest 50 in IPL 2016 as well.

200th Boundary – Yusuf Pathan hit his 200th boundary in Indian Premier League.

Uthappa and Gambhir has been impressive
Uthappa and Gambhir has been impressive
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KKR relishing top order’s excellent form, but concerned over middle-order batting

Kolkata Knight Riders’ assistant coach Simon Katich yesterday was full of praise on team’s top-order along with openers Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa, claiming that the form of the senior players at the top has ultimately eased the pressure on the yet to be tested middle-order.

KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir  at the moment holds the Orange Cap for scoring a maximum number of runs (192) in the competition so far, including two decent fifties in three matches. Robin Uthappa (81) despite not being able to score as many runs, his contributions of 35 and 38 against Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad, seen very instrumental in setting up the team’s successful chase.

“Gautam is 34 years of age and still has a good deal of cricket in front of him. He’s hungry and keen and he’s showing that out in the middle. I think he has a point to the Indian selectors which is good. Robin as well, he’s 30, and as a batsman, he has got his best days in front of him,” Katich with a slight smile on his face said, ahead of Kolkata Knight Riders’ fourth IPL 2016 match, against Kings XI Punjabi in Mohali.

“To have those two, who have batted together a fair bit, helps. They’re comfortable knowing that that is their role for their team and they’re comfortable playing that role day in and day out. That probably takes a bit of pressure off knowing that they’re settled there,” Katich further said.

“There’s no doubt that the openers have a big advantage in this form of the game. They get to bat when the field is up, they get to settle in the first few overs and if they settle in and get some boundaries away then all of a sudden they can do some damage in the middle overs where it is harder to find the boundaries. Fortunately, for us, our top order is in good form.”

Knight Riders Australian assistant coach also mentioned Manish Pandey’s contribution. KKR’s No. 3 batsman has added 78 runs to the team’s total in three games so far. It includes a fine fifty which helped his team throw a mammoth 188-run target for Mumbai Indians, unfortunately, they lost the game.

“Manish Pandey’s innings against Mumbai was outstanding. Having watched him throughout the summer in Australia where he got his hundred in Sydney where he batted beautifully, there is no doubt that we’re blessed to have this top order. Could do damage in the first six but also then, outside of the six overs when the power-play ends still put pressure on the spinners in that period,” Katich mentioned.

While the top three have been in stunning form, the middle-order hasn’t enjoyed as much time in the middle, and the Australian coach admits, it’s a bit of concern ahead of a crucial match at a batting-friendly track like Mohali’s. “That’s always an issue when you play this form of the game and the top order bats so well. But it’s not a bad situation to be in,” Katich pointed outed.

“From the batting point of view, ideally we would have liked more of the guys to have a hit but the top-order has done such a good job that they’re not getting a chance. The guys are preparing well in the nets and they’re doing everything possible to make sure they’re ready to go. So, until they get an opportunity in the middle we just have to wait till that happens,” Katich remains optimistic.

The Kolkata Knight Riders assistant coach after examining the field and pitch at the PCA Stadium in Mohali even as the teams cancelled their practice sessions in the evening, stated that as seen in the previous games, the pitch will most likely to favour the batsmen. “Generally, par (score) is around 170 on this wicket. It’s a very good wicket. They (Rising Pune Supergiants) obviously fell short of that and the Kings caught up. Very good by Kings to restrict Pune to 152. We just got a look at the wicket this afternoon and we think it is going to play well,” Katich justified his comments.

KXIP v KKR
KXIP v KKR
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IPL 2016: Kings XI Punjab vs Kolkata Knight Riders – Numbers to look out for

Currently at the bottom of the table Kings XI Punjab will be facing Knight Riders who should be high on confidence as they are currently second on the league table. Kings XI looks to be getting their form back as they beat Rising Pune Supergiants in Mohali, thanks to a good opening stand between Manan Vohra and Murali Vijay. Maxwell too showed a return to form as he blazed some big shots at the end.

On the other end we have Knight Riders whose middle order batting hasn’t been exposed yet as their Top 3 have handled the batting department so far. In their previous game, they beat Sunrisers Hyderabad in their home ground i.e. Hyderabad.

As both these teams clash, here’s bringing to you some of the important records or numbers that we will can to look out for –

Head-to-Head – KKR have a 11-6 win record against the Kings XI which also includes IPL 2014 Final. If we consider the last 5 times these two teams have played against each other, KKR has ended on the winning side on all 5 occasions.

Controlled Bowling – Kings XI bolers have conceded the least number of sixes in IPL 2016 so far. Considering the presence of big hitters like Russell and Yusuf Pathan in KKR line-up will this number change?

200th Six – Yusuf Pathan is one six short to complete his 200 sixes in T20 Cricket. He will be the 4th Indian batsman to do so after Raina, Rohit and Yuvraj. He is also 2 boundaries short to complete 200 boundaries in IPL.

Orange Cap – Gambhir holds the orange cap right now. He has scored 192 runs in 3 matches. He will be looking to make his hold on this cap stronger.

A big due – Murali Vijay, who scored a half-century last match wll be looking to capitalise on the form he has regained. Since IPL 2013, in the past 3 seasons Murali Vijay hasn’t gone past 60 runs in a single inning. He is also 3 boundaries short of completing 200 4s in IPL.

Player battle to look out for –

Sharma’s vs the KKR Openers: Mohit Sharma and Sandeep Sharma lead the pace attack of Kings XI, it will be interesting to see how Gambhir and Uthappa tackle them.

M3 vs Spin – Miller, Marsh and Maxwell are really strong against pace, can they show their domination over the world class spin attach of Knight Riders? If they do then we are definitely in a for treat this match.

Gautam Gambhir pleased after easy win over Sunrisers
Gautam Gambhir pleased after easy win over Sunrisers
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Gautam Gambhir pleased after easy win over Sunrisers

After a minor hiccup against the Mumbai Indians, the Knight Riders stormed their way back as they marauded the Sunrisers Hyderabad. The hosts won the toss and had no hesitation in batting first, but that turned out to be a rather disastrous move. The top order of the Sunrisers was rocked early as Shikhar Dhawan endured yet another failure.

For the Sunrisers, it was just Eoin Morgan who displayed some resistance and batted well. Morgan was really efficient for his knock of 51, as the England captain ensured that the Sunrisers Hyderabad got to a respectable total. Nevertheless, due to frequently losing wickets, the hosts were at least 25-30 runs short of the ideal score. The wicket was just going to get easier as the game progressed, and that is what happened at Hyderabad.

Gambhir and Uthappa were completely flawless and the two seemed unstoppable. Gambhir rolled back the years with his elegant shots and the southpaw seemed to be at complete ease while getting the Knight Riders home. The Knight Riders eventually got home by 8 wickets and with 10 balls to spare.

Gambhir was named the Man of the Match for his unbeaten knock of 90, and he seemed quite pleased with the win. “Very important to win this game especially after losing the last game. We needed to get some momentum before we play the home games. I thought it was a 170 wicket and we knew that the ball will come on nicely under the lights. The bowlers took wickets up front and I think we paced the chase perfectly,” said Gambhir.

Sunil Narine, who made a comeback, didn’t have an ideal outing as the Trinidadian didn’t pick up a wicket. However, Gambhir backed him to do well in the remaining games. “There is no pressure on Sunil Narine. He will get more confident as the tournament progresses and he is our trump card. He will definitely get better.”

SRH v KKR
SRH v KKR - Match in numbers
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IPL 2016: Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Kolkata Knight Riders – Match in Numbers

Sunrisers came into this match after a humiliating loss from Royal Challengers Bangalore, whereas KKR were playing their first away match this season after a loss from MI at home.

Sunrisers Hyderabad won the toss and chose to bat as this was a day math and dew wouldn’t come into play. But the decision of SRH soon turned out to be a wrong one as KKR (who often rely on their spinners) pacers led by Umesh Yadav, Morne Morkel, and Andre Russell took wickets at regular intervals and didn’t let any pair set a partnership.

Coming in to chase 143 in 20 overs, KKR didn’t have to break much sweat has their opening pair gave a good start. Thanks to captain Gautam Gambhir’s unbeaten 90 runs. KKR won the match by 8 wickets.

In our pre-match review, we had predicted that the winner of the match will be determined by the success of opening pairs. KKR openers did well and they won the match. Take a look at other important stats of this match –

Gambhir gets his cap back – Gambhir was second in the list of highest run scorers this IPL before the match began. However, he started off with a good partnership with Uthappa and scored a half century to get back the Orange Cap.

Highest opening partnership this IPL – Gambhir and Uthappa scored 92 runs for the opening stand, this is the highest opening partnership in this season of IPL. Overall this is the third highest partnership by runs for any wicket in IPL 2016.

5000 run club – Gambhir with his half century became the fourth Indian player and 16th worldwide in T20s to score 5000 or more runs. This list is led by Suresh Raina (5971), Rohit Sharma (5739) and Virat Kohli (5547).

Average like no other – Gambhir averages 192 in the 3 matches he has played in this season of IPL. This is mainly because he has remained not-out twice in the two matches of the 3 he has played.

Difficult to defend when someone like Rohit bats for 20 overs - Gautam Gambhir
Difficult to defend when someone like Rohit bats for 20 overs - Gautam Gambhir
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Difficult to defend when someone like Rohit bats for 20 overs – Gautam Gambhir

Rohit Sharma’s love affair with the Eden Gardens continued as the Mumbai Indians skipper played an absolute blinder to guide his team to victory against the Kolkata Knight Riders. Rohit was simply brilliant at the top of the order as he paced his innings to perfection and calmly went about his task of chasing down a huge total of 188.

Rohit though was supported perfectly by Jos Buttler, who stole the show towards the end with his lusty blows. Buttler’s 22 ball knock of 41 shifted the momentum in the favor of the visitors and his knock included three fours and as many sixes. The visitors won the game with five balls to spare, and Sharma was duly named the Man of the Match for his outstanding knock.

In the post-match presentation, Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir admitted that it is difficult to defend any total when someone like Rohit Sharma bats for 20 overs. “If one of the top 3 batters bat through the innings, Rohit did that and it was tough for us,” said Gambhir. “Credit goes to them for accelerating at the right time. We thought that spinners will be more useful than fast bowlers, so we played 3 spinners. It was a tactical move. There was some good batting from others as well, the likes of Jos Buttler. I can’t point out one or two things why Mumbai do well here. They have a lot of quality players like Rohit Sharma and are a dangerous side. If someone like Rohit bats 20 overs, it’s difficult to defend,” Gambhir added.

Rohit Sharma was pleased with the win, as he credited the other batsmen for their contributions and for sticking along with him. “We started well with the ball, lost it in the middle and didn’t field well. Our fielding needs to improve. Our batting was superb. Parthiv Patel got off to a start, Mitch came in and scored those crucial 20 runs, and Buttler came in and played that crucial knock, we have seen him do that time and again for England. Someone needed to play right through the innings and it was my duty and responsibility,” said Sharma.

Happy to get some runs - Gautam Gambhir
Happy to get some runs - Gautam Gambhir
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Happy to get some runs – Gautam Gambhir

The encounter between the Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders turned out to be a replica of the first game, as the hosts stormed their way to a win by 9 wickets. The Knight Riders couldn’t have got their campaign off in better style, as in front of their home ground, the bowlers came to the party to restrict the Daredevils below 100.

The inexperience was clearly visible from the Daredevils perspective as Andre Russell struck thrice in his opening burst to dent the visitors. The Daredevils batsmen couldn’t recover from the initial blows and later, succumbed to the guile and mystery of Brad Hogg. The Knight Riders won the game with 35 balls to spare to seal off the game.

Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir remained unbeaten on 38 through the chase, and he admitted that he was pleased to get some runs for himself. “I was playing after a long time, so I’m happy to get some runs under the bag against a quality attack,” said Gambhir. The Knight Riders skipper dismissed rumors suggesting that his side demanded tailored wickets. “We have all bases covered so it doesn’t matter what we get. Lots of people say that we ask for specific tracks but it’s never that way. A quality bowler will do well on any kind of surface,” he said.

The southpaw praised Jamaican Andre Russell for his efforts and said, “The way Russell started, he got to Kolkata in the morning. A lot of credit to the bowlers for restricting them to 98, half the job was done right there. Not used to play on these kinds of wickets in Kolkata. We weren’t sure as to what will be a good total so decided to bowl first. It’s a small ground here making it easier to chase. Russell is a quality player and the surface doesn’t matter when you have quality,” said Gambhir.

“I thought that someone had to bat through which is what professional teams do and that is what we had discussed and that was my responsibility. Robin batted unbelievably, some of the shots were unbelievable,” Gambhir summed up.

Gautam Gambhir pleased after Narine's action is cleared
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Gautam Gambhir pleased after Narine’s action is cleared

Sunil Narine has always been a vital cog for the Kolkata Knight Riders. When the Knight Riders won their first ever IPL in 2012, it was Narine who stole the show with his mystery spin and was simply unplayable as he bamboozled several batsmen. Narine’s success just took off further as he went on to lead the wicket charts in several T20 competitions.

However, in late 2014 during the Champions League T20, Narine’s action was suspected by the umpires and it was later found out that his bowling action was illegal. As a consequence, Narine missed out from the 2015 World Cup and the recently concluded World T20. Nevertheless, the Trinidadian has now remodeled his action and has been cleared to bowl in the IPL.

Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir expressed his delight when Narine was cleared to bowl, and said that he would continue being a vital part of the side. “I am as confident in his ability as I was last year,” Gambhir said”He’ll also be confident with a remodelled action after getting the monkey off his back. It is very important for anyone to get that off your back as you can go into the game with freedom and know that everything has been sorted. The more confident that Sunil is the more confident I will be. Last time he was always under the scrutiny, this year, you’ll get the best of them and see the best of him as well,” said Gambhir.

Gambhir also said that the members of his side were eager and excited to begin their 2016 campaign on a high. . “Everyone’s excited and we’re looking forward to a good start. I believe that if we can get off to a good start, it always takes the pressure off you and this is what we’ve realised last year as well. Up to 12 games we were at the top and suddenly in two games we slipped to No.5, so we can hopefully start off well and continue that into the tournament,” he said.

Gambhir was also generous in acknowledging the support and affection he received from the people of Kolkata. The southpaw added that such affection made the Knight Riders a strong side. “One of the biggest strengths of KKR is the fan base. The amount of loyalty and emotions they’ve shown us after the first three years is incredible. They stuck through with us, believed in us and have shared our emotions of joy when in victory, and sorrow in losses. Whenever we walk onto the field, we want to make them proud and happy by playing good cricket.”

MS Dhoni was helpless against West Indies - Gautam Gambhir
MS Dhoni was helpless against West Indies - Gautam Gambhir
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MS Dhoni was helpless against West Indies – Gautam Gambhir

Discarded opener Gautam Gambhir has said that Indian skipper MS Dhoni was profusely helpless in the semi-final of the World T20 against the West Indies. Gambhir, in his media interaction, said that Lendl Simmons was extremely lucky and owing to the lackluster outing of the Indian spinners, Dhoni could not do anything out of the box. The southpaw also added that he was surprised when he saw that R. Ashwin’s full quota of overs wasn’t utilized.

“MS Dhoni is a good captain but he is at his best when his spinners are in play,” said Gambhir. “He likes the hustle-bustle that his spinners create, rushing through the overs and thereby controlling the game. I could see the tension on his face when Jadeja was bowling half-trackers with that wet ball. I wasn’t surprised to see Dhoni turning to Virat Kohli for bowling. I was also not surprised to note that Ashwin’s quota of overs wasn’t completed,” Gambhir said.

He also stated that dropping Shikhar Dhawan for the crucial game was a big mistake. “I strongly feel the Indian team management erred by benching Shikhar Dhawan. If ever there was a venue to play him, it was the Wankhede Stadium. This was a flat pitch with small boundaries, something that would have excited him. In any case, I am never a big fan of giving a new guy a game in such an important fixture unless due to injury, said Gambhir.

“They lost the toss and batted first at a venue where chasing is the order of the day. Then they posted 192 which can be considered a par score with small boundaries and a rocket outfield. Above all, there was one cricketing element which decimated India’s spin advantage – dew,” Gambhir summed up, about the misfortune of the Indians.

Virender Sehwag
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Quotes and prediction about Indo-Pak clash at the Eden Gardens

The Saturday evening clash between India and Pakistan will grab the eyeballs of millions of fans who gather to watch the World Twenty 20 match between the two arch-rival nations in Kolkata.

The cricket fanatics neighbours, who have fought three battles since the independence for Kashmir strip, share one of the world’s fiercest sporting rivalry and their rare showdown the pitch can bring both to a standstill.

India came into the World T20 as the favourite with 10 wins in 11 matches, but crashed to a shock 47 runs defeat to New Zealand in the Super 10 stage opener in Nagpur. Home advantage seemed to be a fallacy as Indian batsmen surrendered to the spinner on a sticky pitch and bowled out for 79 runs for only 79 in the group  2 game.

If India’s strength in batting failed it, Pakistan had just the opposite start with their unfancied batting line up firing away in Kolkata to carve out an impressive  55 run win against Bangladesh, aside it lost to at the recent Asia Cup. So, the battle between the two heavyweights remains unpredictable as ever.

Here’s what few of the players part of today’s battle and some former greats have to say.

Indian spinner Ravichandran has addressed the press conference yesterday and said, “India-Pakistan rivalry is bigger than Ashes.”

Former Indian opener wants to see India’s victory over the Pakistanis at the Eden Gardens. “I am expecting an India victory on Saturday.”

Former South African great Jonty Rhodes pressed the caution button as he said, “One  the basis of one performance, don’t underestimate team India.”

Former Pakistan great Javed Miandad is sure his country will break the jinx. “Pakistan will give India tit for tat. World Cup is still open.”

For Gautam Gambhir, the hero of 2007 final World T20, said, “India-Pakistan is just another match.”

However, Basit Ali, former Pakistani batsman does not want rivalry out of the field, he thinks this match is important for rebuilding the relationship of two neighbours. “This match is creating good will two countries.”

And, meanwhile, Pakistani model Qandeel Baloch is following the India-Pakistan clash avidly to keep her promise. She tweets.