With Jaipur Defeated, KXIP Now, Put The Places Of Interest In The KKR-Fortress > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - With Jaipur bested, KXIP now set sights on the KKR fortress
Having stolen victories from the jaws of a certain defeat in the death overs in their respective season openers, Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab will now face off at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday in a bid to build on that momentum.
KXIP's phenomenal come-from-behind win, inspired by their two foreign bowlers, was completely overshadowed by the mankading incident R Ashwin was involved in. The Jos Buttler dismissal sparked the age old spirit-of-the-game vs it's-all-in-the-rules debate and, while the rest of the cricket fraternity is divided, the KXIP captain stood his ground calling his decision 'purely instinctive'. As much as this will stay in the news, Ashwin & Co. would look to move on and add another away win to their kitty before returning to Mohali for their first home game of the 2019 season over the weekend.
Having breached the Royal fortress in Jaipur - after five successive losses there - KXIP now have set sights on another venue of similar ilk. Their head to head against the hosts at Eden Gardens is 7-3, but one of those three wins came just last year and was inspired by KL Rahul. The in-form Karnataka batsman may have fallen cheaply in their tournament opener, but with Chris Gayle at his belligerent best, and given his track record at Eden, KXIP will throw another massive challenge at KKR's bowlers.
On Monday, Gayle turned the middle overs to death overs and KXIP never really felt the pinch, but the visitors would want to strengthen their middle-order especially with Karun Nair and David Miller now having linked up with the squad. Their bowling too lacked the edge in the absence of last edition's Purple Cap holder Andrew Tye but, in encouraging signs for the visitors, the Australian spent a couple of hours in the nets during optional training on the eve of the game.
Against SRH, Andre Russell saved KKR the blushes of a rare opening defeat at home with a blazing 19-ball unbeaten 49 that turned the game on its head in the final three overs of the evening. The once-in-a-lifetime knock, though, masked the batting department's rustiness. KKR's batting mainstays - Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik - all got out to nothing shots. However, asked to open just ahead of the chase, Nitish Rana responded expertly in the face of an injury to Sunil Narine and hit a 47-ball 68 that kept his team in the hunt, before Russell took over.
As commendably as they pulled things back eventually, KKR's bowling too was all over the place in the first 16 until they managed to see off a returning David Warner. Karthik deployed as many as eight bowlers, which could partially be owed to a brief injury scare for Narine, but neither could find a way past SRH's new opening pair that put up a century stand. With Narine now passed fit, KKR are back to full strength.
It might be early stages in the tournament but the pressure would be on the hosts - and two-time champions - to shake off the rustiness and pack up this brief home schedule with a win before they hit the road for four games on the trot.
When: Kolkata Knight Riders vs Kings XI Punjab, March 27 at 8pm IST
Where: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
What to expect: An overcast, windy evening and fully under-covers Eden Gardens greeted the two teams upon arrival for their practice sessions on Tuesday. Even though rain is predicted to stay away on match day, expect a cloud cover and a breezy evening for the night fixture.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Narine's finger injury, that prevented the team from opening with their gun player as a precautionary measure, has healed and the Caribbean spinner was amongst the first few to roll their arm in the nets. In which case, do you still push Nitish Rana down the order despite how admirably he filled in? Rana himself made it clear that not opening with Narine on Sunday was a last-minute call, but his runs at the top of the order will please KKR should they need a tweak and/or a surprise element going forward in the tournament. For Wednesday, the team would likely stick with their winning combination.
Probable XI: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik (c/wk), Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Prasidh Krishna
Kings XI Punjab: Though he bowled the game-changing 16th over in KXIP's defense of 184, Sam Curran was expensive for a frontline pacer. And if KXIP's pre-match optional nets is anything to go by, Tye is back and raring to reclaim his spot as the leader of their pace attack, as harsh as it might be on the Englishman. Miller and Karun were the other two star attractions and, by the looks of it, likely to walk into the playing XI. Nicholas Pooran and Mandeep Singh could likely be the ones making way, respectively.
Probable XI: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul (wk), Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, David Miller, Mandeep Singh/Karun Nair, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Andrew Tye, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Ankit Rajpoot
Did you know?
- Gayle requires four more maximums to become the first player to hit 300 sixes in IPL. He was the first to 100 sixes (in 2012) and 200 sixes (in 2015) as well.
- Mayank Agarwal has 956 runs in 60 IPL innings. If he gets to 1000 runs in his next five innings, he will be the second slowest to the milestone in IPL after Irfan Pathan (66 innings).
- Sunil Narine needs one more wicket to become the second bowler to take 50 IPL wickets at a venue (Eden Gardens) after Lasith Malinga (58 at the Wankhede).
What they said
"Chris (Gayle) is in some pretty fine touch at the moment; he batted well last night. It's nice to watch him. Perhaps there are some areas we can look at attacking him. But, in general across the whole competition, the batting line-ups are so strong. You don't play a team which has a weak batting line-up by any means." - Lockie Ferguson
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