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Cricket news - KKR aim to shrug off early tournament lethargy

Will KKR consider bringing back the now-fit Sunil Narine into the XI.

Will KKR consider bringing back the now-fit Sunil Narine into the XI.

The Overview

Kolkata Knight Riders land in Mumbai with a nagging feeling of 'could have, would have and should have'. Head coach Brendon McCullum believes his side needs to "tidy up some areas". If the loss against Mumbai Indians was down to a mental block and the lower order having to deal with the worst conditions the track had to offer on the night, the loss against Royal Challengers Bangalore was down to some poor execution. KKR have had a pin put into their balloon but the party is far from over. The side will aim to shrug off the early tournament lethargy in their next two matches in Mumbai.

There have been several questions on where MS Dhoni should bat, the batting strategies CSK should adopt and the form of Ruturaj Gaikwad. And despite all of that, CSK have two wins from three games. While the wins have largely been set up by the bowlers, CSK will have no hesitation in admitting they haven't been their best so far. And that can be a scary prospect for any opposition.

When: KKR vs CSK, April 21, 2021 at 19:30 IST

Where: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

What to expect: The matches at the venue produced two high-scoring contests in the first two games before the bowlers found some support from the track. KKR batsmen will be relieved to have flown out of Chennai and should enjoy the conditions. Teams will continue to prefer to chase.

Head to Head: KKR 8 - 14 CSK. CSK won the last contest, in Dubai by six wickets.

Team Watch:

Kolkata Knight Riders

Player availability: Sunil Narine was carrying an injury and wasn't 100 percent fit till the third game. McCullum has clarified the allrounder now comes into the mix and could be an option to replace Shakib al Hasan going ahead.

Tactics & Match-ups: In their three matches in Chennai, KKR bowled more spin than pace in the powerplay. Against Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore, Eoin Morgan bowled as many as five overs of spin inside the first six overs but with very different conditions in Mumbai, that tactic will need a revisit.

Sunil Narine has a great record against MS Dhoni, conceding only 30 runs off the 63 balls he's bowled to the CSK captain. The spinner has a good record against CSK in general (13 games, 14 wickets, Average: 22.43, SR: 22, ER: 6.12) and could make a comeback into the side.

Probable XI: Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi, Eoin Morgan (c), Shakib Al Hasan/Sunil Narine, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Andre Russell, Pat Cummins, Harbhajan Singh, Prasidh Krishna/Kamlesh Nagarkoti/Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy.

Chennai Super Kings

Player availability: Jason Behrendorff is in quarantine but Lungi Ngidi is out and available for selection. It's likely CSK will be inclined to have an option where they can rush the batsman. Faf du Plessis, Moeen Ali and Sam Curran will continue to hold their place in the eleven. The axe could fall on Dwayne Bravo.

Tactics and Match-ups: Against CSK, Andre Russell strikes at 161.43 and has scored 226 runs at an average of over 45. He, though, strikes at less than 100 against Imran Tahir who's got him out twice already. Unfortunately, the legspinner hasn't made it to the playing XI this season.

In the leadup to the season, Morgan had spoken about Harbhajan's value in the side, "particularly in Chennai which notoriously can turn" but he will take comfort in the offspinner's superlative record in Mumbai as well as against CSK's batsmen. Harbhajan has been able to tie down both Suresh Raina and Faf du Plessis in the past, getting them out five and three times respectively. On top of that, Harbhajan has picked 49 wickets on the flat pitches at Wankhede and conceded runs at just over 7.

Probable XI:Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Moeen Ali, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Sam Curran, Shardul Thakur, Dwayne Bravo/Lungi Ngidi, Deepak Chahar.

Did you know?

- KKR have a poor record at the Wankhede, losing eight out of the nine games they have played at this venue. Their only win came way back in 2012.

- Dhoni has never hit a boundary off the bowling of Narine in IPL.

- Dinesh Karthik is set to play his 200th IPL match.

- Harbhajan Singh has now had to wait 712 days to pick up a wicket in IPL. In this duration, he's featured in just fives matches and pulled out of the entire 2020 season.

What they said:

"Sunil Narine stood on the rope before our first game which means he has had an injury where he was not 100 percent fit. He certainly comes into our calculations, he was touch and go for this game against RCB but we opted for Shakib who has been good for us and gives us an extra bit of batting. After three games, the guys have played well, we have not got the results, we probably would need some fresh legs for slightly different wickets in Mumbai" - McCullum.

"Robin's waiting, but Ruturaj has that spot (opening). He earned a bit of time last year with the way he played and you know our philosophy - we give players a good run. The intent is there, his training is great so we'll continue to back him. We'll make a decision to change at some point and we'll discuss it really hard but at the moment we're backing a good young player" - Stephen Fleming.