It was a case of so near yet so far for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the last game against the Mumbai Indians. It was a game that went down to the wire and Mumbai snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat with just a ball to spare.
After batting first on a flat wicket at Wankhede, KKR notched a healthy 178/7 on the board courtesy of a dazzling 81 from Manish Pandey. They almost had the game in their bag with the hosts struggling at 119/5 in the 17th over but then Hardik Pandya and Nitish Rana miraculously got their side within touching distance of the target. And even though Rana fell after getting to his 50, Pandya ensured he remained unbeaten to take his team across the line.
While the chase was unfolding at the Wankhede, KKR’s talisman this year Chris Lynn injured his left shoulder once again as he dived to take a catch. The injury looks serious and he is surely going to miss tomorrow’s game against the Kings XI Punjab. But who does KKR replace Lynn with? Here’s the predicted playing XI for Kolkata Knight Riders:
The KKR skipper dazzled with the bat against the Gujarat Lions in the first game where he scored an unbeaten 76. He also scored a quick 19 against the Mumbai Indians but then was caught at fine leg. But the KKR captain has looked in great touch.
With Lynn not playing tomorrow Gambhir will once again have to step up and deliver to get his side into a winning position again.
With Lynn gone Uthappa once again has to take up the responsibility of opening the innings with his captain. However, he has not been in good form and that showed in his last game as he got out for just 3.
The man from Karnataka will, however, take confidence from the fact that he has scored truckloads of runs for the franchise in the previous few years and there’s no reason why he cannot do it again. He needs to time a few from the middle of the bat to get his confidence back up again.
He did not get an opportunity to bat against the Lions but when his chance came against Mumbai he grabbed it with both hands. Pandey slammed a 47-ball 81 which included five huge sixes to take his side to a respectable total of 178.
With Lynn out, a lot of responsibility will be on his shoulders to deliver in the games to come. Now, this is a sort of challenge that he will relish as it will also give him a chance to get into the squad for the Champions Trophy.
The former Mumbai Ranji Trophy captain is quite a sight when he is in full flow. He can smash it all around the park with a little bit of innovation combined with brute force. He scored 17 in the last game before holding out to Pollard in the deep trying to club Malinga into the stands.
Against Kings XI he will surely look to contribute a little more to his team’s total.
Pathan usually contributes to the KKR score by scoring a quickfire 30 or 40. But on his day he can be devastating. He has done it before and especially after missing out against the Mumbai Indians he would want to make amends versus Kings XI.
Shakib Al Hasan
Bangladesh cricket’s poster boy will be back in business this IPL. After missing the first two matches due to international commitments Shakib will look to announce his arrival in grand fashion.
He will give Gambhir, four overs of quality spin and then back it up with some aggressive batting lower down the order.
The England all-rounder needs to join the party after two very low key outings. KKR shed a lot of moolah to rope in Woakes and he would ideally want to come good for his side tomorrow with the ball and then if needed with the bat.
Though he has not been at his lethal best this season, the West Indies mystery spinner is a match winner any day. Also at the Eden track, he has been unplayable at times. KKR will look forward to him bagging some prized scalps tomorrow.
After picking up three wickets in the first two games, the chinaman bowler will be high on confidence. He would make sure that even if the pitch isn’t turning much, he can restrict the batsmen from hitting big shots.
After enjoying a brilliant season at home with the Indian Test team and speedster is back and Gambhir will look up to him to get KKR some early breakthroughs. With the kind of form, he is in that won’t be very difficult.
The New Zealander hasn’t quite enjoyed success yet for his new franchise. But on an Eden track which is expected to offer some pace and bounce Boult can surely be a ‘bolt from the blue’ for the Kings XI.