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Cricket news - DC get ready for Eden bout with the Russell marvel
Festivities are rife in the city of Kolkata. It could be just another day in the heart of the city for the locals, but in essence, the city of joy has more than one reason to rejoice. The Kolkata Knight Riders return for a stretch of home games. Also coming home is the Kolkata's beloved son Sourav Ganguly, even if his presence in the Delhi Capitals' camp for Friday's clash earned a preemptive conflict complaint.
It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to state that the first half of the Indian Premier League has mostly been about Andre Russell. His batting exploits have single-handedly, on more occasions than one, have influenced KKR's fortunes. Despite playing in the lower-middle order, Russell has managed to notch up numbers like 257 runs off just 121 balls, a strike-rate of 212.39, easily bossing the list of maximum impact - if ever there was such a list.
In six games so far, Russell's job predominantly has been to haul KKR out of sticky situations. While succeeding for most parts, he was conquered just the once - against Delhi - by the pace prodigy Kagiso Rabada. Even at the Feroz Shah Kotla, Russell had dispatched Delhi's bowlers to all parts en route a 28-ball 62, but when it mattered most - in the Super Over - it was Rabada who bowled the 'ball of the season' to york the mighty Russell and seal victory.
Since then, the road for either side has been a bit of a contrast. While Delhi were beaten by Kings XI Punjab and Sunrisers Hyderabad, before bouncing back against Royal Challengers Bangalore, KKR picked up emphatic wins against RCB and Rajasthan Royals, before succumbing to the spin-twins in Chennai.
The reason for the over-reliance on Russell has been due to consistent failures at the top. Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine have, as a pair, failed to provide the starts they are capable of, leaving the middle order with much of the catching up to do. Nitish Rana teed off in the first two games, but has been relatively sedate since, as has Robin Uthappa. The bowling unit, too, hasn't fired in unison.
Meanwhile, Delhi, after a comfortable win over RCB, have been hampered by injuries. They held trials in Kolkata to explore options for replacements, as coach Ricky Ponting confirmed on the eve of the match. While a lot of chatter in the Delhi camp will encompass containing Russell, they can take a cue from the CSK game where the spinners were able to keep him quiet largely.
However, with the pitch aiding the pacers, it could be a tricky call for the Delhi management to make. But they will know better than focussing solely on Russell, with KKR's top order capable of batting them out of the game.
When: Kolkata Knight Riders vs Delhi Capitals, April 12, 20:00 IST
Where: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
What to expect: Ample green on the wicket, assisting the pacers on either side. Forecast is for scattered showers in the afternoon, but shouldn't impact the game too much. The temperature though will soar up as high as 36.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Despite having fallen well short of how they would've liked to fare in their last game against CSK, Kolkata won't want to make any changes to their side. But the green on the wicket will have them bring in a pacer. Lockie Ferguson should return to the side in place of Harry Gurney. KKR have roped in Matt Kelly as replacement for Anrich Nortje, but it's unlikely he will make his way straight into the side.
Probable XI: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (c & wk), Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Lockie Ferguson, Prasidh Krishna, Kuldeep Yadav
Harshal Patel has been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament with a fracture to his right arm. Manjot Kalra has carried a niggle through the first part of the tournament as well which has left Delhi scouting for fresh talent. Whether or not they will get a go tomorrow is anyone's guess, but Ponting suggested the possibility of DC going in with three pacers, bringing back Trent Boult into the fray, along with Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris and Ishant Sharma.
Probable XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Colin Ingram, Chris Morris, Axar Patel, Rahul Tewatia, Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Trent Boult/Sandeep Lamichanne
What they said:
"We've seen that this pitch is always been our strength, we've played to our strength. Our batsmen have enjoyed pace on the ball. So I feel if you stick to your basics, you don't need to come up with any special plan. You just need to play good cricket and I feel when you pay quality bowlers, it's how well you bat and the more cricketing shots you play, the more productive it is." - Abhishek Nayar, KKR Mentor
"It's always nice to win the first game against them. But we understand they're a really good team, they've also relied on just a few star players. So we need to make sure those players don't get away from us. We need to see Andre Russell doesn't make much of an impact. We've had a couple days of break, so hope we can have a good game." - Ricky Ponting
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