Transfers made – 1; Transfers remaining – 41
Nitish Rana out – Gautam Gambhir in
(uncapped) Siddarth Kaul out – Basil Thampi in
Uncapped preference order: 1. Basil Thampi 2. Ishan Kishan 3. Suryakumar Yadav
Captain – Gautam Gambhir
Kolkata Knight Riders have finally started to get something out of their overseas players with consistent, economical spells from Sunil Narine and the Man-of-the-Match performance from debutant Nathan Coulter-Nile in their last match against the Delhi Daredevils. As a result, both look good to get an extended run, but the same cannot be said of Colin de Grandhomme and Chris Woakes.
De Grandhomme could consider himself unlucky, as he hasn’t got enough time in the middle in a role he is quite used to. Woakes, however, has been pretty mediocre in all the five matches so far. It is bizarre that the Knight Riders are sticking with him, with someone like Shakib Al Hasan on the bench. We could see it changing today, though. Unfortunately, De Grandhomme, and not Woakes, is the one who is likely to get the axe.
KKR vs GL – Fantasy Factors
As far as fantasy picks are concerned, if you look at Gambhir’s performances in this edition of the IPL, you will see a trend: he has failed to cross the 20-run mark against all the good bowling sides in the tournament, be it the Sunrisers Hyderabad, Mumbai Indians or the Delhi Daredevils, while completely annihilating Gujarat Lions and Kings XI Punjab. With him playing the Lions again today, you should know what to do.
Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey could do well, too, but I have only one spot open in my team, and I have decided to go with Gambhir because it is easier for him to counter the left-arm spinners in the Lions side or the likely reintroduction of Tejas Baroka, another spinner who will be spinning the ball into the left-handers.
If you have space for one more KKR batsman, I would recommend Pandey, who looks as good as he has ever been, ahead of Uthappa for this fixture. While I have managed to carry Kuldeep Yadav around, it is not necessary that you should bring him in now.
From Gujarat Lions, I already have Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik and Andrew Tye. The only other player who is worth considering is Brendon McCullum. I had taken the decision to leave him out ahead of the last match, so bringing him in now against a tougher bowling side on a slightly more difficult batting wicket with bigger boundaries will be overcompensating for the loss.
I will stick my neck out and omit him again, hoping the KKR spinners do what they do best. Dwayne Bravo is closer to a comeback now than ever before, but I would be very surprised if he plays today. Basil Thampi looks a better uncapped pick than Ishan Kishan or Suryakumar Yadav, both of whom bat way too low in the batting order to have any impact.