The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have always believed in the theory of horses for courses and therefore they have been one of the most successful teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Yesterday on a flat track, tailor-made for hard hitters, KKR captain Gautam Gambhir chose to play three frontline spinners against the Gujarat Lions. Though the Lions got off to quite a flyer, they could not quite continue the same momentum throughout the innings as the tweakers kept pegging them back by grabbing wickets at crucial times.
The KKR bowlers succeeded in restricting the Lions to 183 and then it was quite a show put on by openers Gambhir and Chris Lynn.
While Gambhir slammed a 48-ball 76, Lynn hit 93 of just 41 to take their side home with 10 wickets and 31 balls to spare.
Now after such an emphatic win you don’t expect KKR to tinker with their winning combination when they face the Mumbai Indians at their home tomorrow. So here is the possible playing XI for the Kolkata team.
Gautam Gambhir (captain)
The Delhi left-hander must be oozing with confidence after the whirlwind knock against the Lions and would ideally want to carry on with the same form against Mumbai.
Ever since he moved from Delhi Daredevils to the Kolkata Knight Riders, he has overseen the franchise's most successful period in the IPL, leading them to two titles in the process.
Though he is past his prime, he is still a force to reckon with at the top of the batting order. He is a sly batter who can maneuver the ball into gaps with his strong wrists. It is not always power hitting for Gambhir. He teams the aggression with death touches which give him loads of runs too.
Before yesterday many knew Chris Lynn as the player who took a blinder for KKR near the ropes in 2014 to set up a thrilling two-run win against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). Now all KKR supporters have his name on their lips and he is the cynosure of all eyes.
The Australian brought up his fifty yesterday off just 19 balls and then kicked on to get an unbeaten 93. Lynn though is carrying on from his exploits at the Big Bash League (BBL) where he had single-handedly destroyed bowling attacks this season. And he would relish batting on the Wankhede strip.
Robin Uthappa (Wicket-Keeper)
The man from Karnataka has had fitness issues lately and was even dropped from his state side. But whenever he dons a purple and golden jersey he becomes a different player altogether.
Though he did not get a chance to bat in the first game he will be raring to go against the Mumbai Indians, a franchise which he has represented before. The best thing about Uthappa is he gets runs playing orthodox cricket shots without taking too many risks.
Although he has been in and out of the Indian limited overs set up, for KKR he has been one of their batting mainstays. Pandey has delivered in crunch games time and again to prove his worth to the side.
But with Lynn and Uthappa in the side, Pandey might have to play at No.4 for the team in purple although much of his success has come batting a rung above. But nevertheless, he will be looking to impress so that he gets a call to fly to the Champions Trophy in England.
Yadav’s cameos have helped KKR time and again in crucial junctures of close games. This year too he will look to do the same whenever he gets an opportunity. The Mumbai lad is a powerful hitter and can be cheeky too at times with his sweeps and paddle scoops. His experience in the lower middle order will surely be handy against the Mumbai Indians.
Be it with the bat or a few overs with the ball, Yusuf Pathan has always chipped in for the men in purple. He might not produce a match winning knock in every game but when he gets going he is difficult to contain.
With the leather too he bowls some quick off spin which sometimes becomes quite difficult for batsmen to get away with.
The England all-rounder gets decent bounce and pace of the wicket and bags wickets at crucial stages of a game. He has done it for his country and a few other teams in T20 leagues around the world and he would like to continue doing the same for KKR this year.
He is quite handy with the bat too and can hit the long ball at will when in full flow.
The legspinner bowled quite well against the Lions with figures of 1/33 from his four. He mixed up his deliveries quite well yesterday and has a brilliant googly which is quite difficult to pick even for modern day greats.
On a flat Wankhede surface Chawla needs to be at his best again if KKR have to pull off yet another away win.
His confidence has grown since debuting in Dharamshala in the last Test against the Australians where he picked a four-for in the first innings. Against the Lions, he got rid of Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch to get his side back into the game.
Kuldeep is quite a difficult bowler to read and might be able to get a few more against the Rohit Sharma-led side on Sunday.
The West Indies spin king hasn’t been quite at his lethal best since correcting his bowling action but he is a miser when it comes to runs. On a deck which has something for the spinners he can still bag quite a few especially as the batsmen still have no clue which way it is going to turn.
The New Zealand speedster went for 40 in his four over picking up just one wicket against the Lions on Friday, but he will surely look to improve when he plays today
Boult has got pace and after the nervy first outing, he should be able to hit the right lengths at the Wankhede. Knowing Gambhir, he would want to use Boult as a trump card and the Kiwi star has to try and live up to the high expectations of his captain.