The top two sides of the tournament have registered two wins in their three matches so far and would look to build on the early momentum going into the latter half of the competition. Both the teams have been defeated by the Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium and would try to rectify their mistakes to get their campaign back on track.
While the Knight Riders thumped Kings XI at home by eight wickets with a dominant batting performance, the Sunrisers lost to the Mumbai Indians by four wickets courtesy a poor batting display by them. The two heavyweights will lock horns in the first match of the doubleheader on Saturday which is touted to be an exciting affair.
Here’s a look at the five factors of winning for both the sides:
#1 With the bat
The Kolkata Knight Riders would be hoping for their skipper Gautam Gambhir to carry on the good form and give the team a solid start at the top. An injury to Chris Lynn prompted the Knight Riders to use the services of Sunil Narine at the top of the order. The move turned out to be the turning point of the match as the West Indian smacked 37 off 18 balls to give his team much-needed impetus at the start of the innings.
With the likes of Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey and Surya Kumar Yadav, the batting unit looks formidable to set up a huge score or chase down any total. The management would be banking on their explosive batsman Yusuf Pathan to get back into his groove and start scoring heavily lower down the order and finish games for the Knight Riders.
The defending champions, Sunrisers Hyderabad had a rather sluggish batting performance in their last match against the Mumbai Indians and would rely heavily on captain David Warner to make use of the field restrictions and get them to a flying start. The southpaw has been one of the mainstays in the batting unit of the Sunrisers and his performance at the top would be crucial for the team’s fortune.
Another player who has been riding on a high ever since his comeback to the Indian team is Yuvraj Singh. The 35-year-old batsman started off the tournament in a commanding fashion with a match-winning 62 in the opening match of the tenth edition against the Royal Challengers Bangalore. With loads of international experience under his belt, the team would be relying on him to consolidate the batting in the middle overs and start expressing himself in the final overs.
#2 With the ball
The Knight Riders have been boosted by the arrival of Umesh Yadav. The premier fast bowler was in tremendous form throughout the India-Australia Test series and started the tournament with an impressive four-wicket haul against the Kings XI Punjab in his first game.
The onus will be on their foreign recruits Chris Woakes and Trent Boult to provide the team with early breakthroughs and restrict the scoring rate. Piyush Chawla will be another key figure in the bowling unit for the Knights. Along with Sunil Narine, he will have to pick up crucial wickets in the middle overs in order to dent the run scoring.
For the Sunrisers, the bowling department has been their major strength throughout the last season and in the first few games of this season. Ashish Nehra and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been brilliant through the tournament and would look to carry on their consistent performance.
Mustafizur Rahman, their trump card in the last edition, will shoulder the responsibility of bowling in the death overs. David Warner and the management would be more than happy with the performance of their bowling unit and hope they continue to strangle the opposition and get over the line.
The Knight Riders have set the trend of going hard at their opponents in the first six overs and are expected to continue with the same approach against the Sunrisers. They utilised the services of Sunil Narine as the pinch hitter at the top and exploited the field restrictions, allowing Gautam Gambhir to play the anchor role and bat through the whole innings.
They would also be looking to use their slower bowlers against the Sunrisers in the powerplay with the likes of David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan, and restrict their flow of runs. They like pace on the ball and this change up would surely put the brakes on the run rate.
The defending champions would be banking on their batsmen to step up and take the responsibility of getting a good total on the board. They would be looking to build partnerships in the middle overs in order to set the foundation for an onslaught in the final overs.
In Bhuvneshwar Kumar, they have an ideal swing bowler who can take the ball away from the left-hander which could create problems for Gambhir, who is the backbone of the KKR batting. The inclusion of Mustafizur has bolstered their bowling and they would be looking for his expertise in the death overs to restrict the batting of the Knights.
#4 Pitch and Conditions
The wicket at the Eden Gardens has been relaid, and with a hard new surface and tinge of grass, it will assist the faster bowlers. Umesh Yadav and Trent Boult would look to exploit the conditions on offer and generate extra bounce and carry to trouble the opposition. The large boundaries at the stadium would mean that the Knight Riders can use their spinner to control the middle overs in the game.
The Sunrisers would enjoy the conditions on offer as their batsmen like the ball coming on to the bat. David Warner will relish the bouncy track at Eden Gardens and would look to make most of the pitch. With Ashish Nehra leading the attack, the fast bowlers will be more than handy on the wicket suiting their style of play.
The conditions will not change much in the course of the match as it is the afternoon game and dew will not play any part. The only factor for the teams is that chasing becomes a touch easier under lights as the balls skids on to the bat.
#5 Trump Cards
The Knight Riders have an ideal match winner in the form of Sunil Narine. The mystery spinner has been the go-to man for Gambhir because of the skills and accuracy he possesses. His exploits with the ball have helped Gambhir handle the pressure situations with ease.
The West Indian showed glimpses of his batting prowess in the last game against Punjab and this new dynamic to his game will add a lot credibility to him as a player. Narine has been the most valuable player for the Knight Riders and his performance will have a major bearing on the outcome of the match.
The one player who has taken Afghan cricket to the world stage is the young teen sensation, Rashid Khan. The leg-spinner has been a revelation for the Sunrisers in the tenth edition.
He has immense control over his leg spin bowling and he’s the wicket taker for Warner in the middle overs. Most of the teams have failed to pick his googly and this has become his main weapon against the right-handers. Rashid’s exploits with the ball in the middle overs are very crucial and his performance can break the backbone of the opposition batting line up.