The ongoing season of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017 is spicing up, with every team eyeing a spot in the top-half of the table. While Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) are comfortably sitting on top, Gujarat Lions (GL) continue to occupy the bottom place. Match No. 23 will see clash of the two-extremes as KKR take on GL at their home ground Eden Gardens, Kolkata. KKR have been in top notch form so far, winning all their home games. GL on the other hand, are yet to win an away game in IPL 10, and this game is going to be extremely tough. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Kolkata Knight Riders vs Gujarat Lions – Match 23
KKR rampaged against GL in Match No.3 of IPL 10 when Gautam Gambhir and Chris Lynn’s onslaught enabled a 10 wicket win. A possible psychological advantage, however, for GL is that KKR have never beaten them at home. GL, in IPL 9, beat KKR by handsome margins of 6 wickets. KKR in IPL 10 have been splendidly shepherd by Gautam Gambhir, who has managed to motivate his team with runs in the middle that in turn has demanded respect from his teammates. The unavailability of Chris Lynn continues to be a problem for them with management testing out Sunil Narine and Colin de Grandhomme as make-shift openers. With Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan and Surya Kumar Yadav amongst the runs, KKR middle order conundrum has been resolved.
International recruits like Chris Woakes, de Grandhomme and Sunil Narine in the side and a bench-strength with the likes of Shakib Al Hasan and Darren Bravo means they hardly need to drop a sweat. Bowling duties have been taken care of by Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav and Piyush Chawla quite commendably. Shakib might be roped in for Nathan Coulter-Nile seeing GL’s struggle against spin bowling.
Likely XI: Sunil Narine, Gautam Gambhir (c), Robin Uthappa (wk), Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, Colin de Grandhomme, Chris Woakes, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Nathan Coulter-Nile/Shakib Al Hasan
Gujarat Lions, meanwhile have a lot of things on their plate to get right. Starting from their batting, fielding to their bowling, nothing has clicked for them. Apart from occasional sparks of brilliance by the likes of Brendon McCullum, Dinesh Karthik, Andrew Tye, and Suresh Raina, no other player has made any kind impact on the game. None-availability of Dwayne Bravo has thrown the team’s plans in a spin. Even the returning Ravindra Jadeja has not been able to do magic with the white-ball.
The only bright side to a dark path to oblivion has been the form of Basil Thampi, who has impressed one and all with his pace and accuracy so far. Their most bankable bowler in Praveen Kumar has leaked runs by the buckets, while Munaf Patel has been decent. Raina has made it pretty evident that the management is not scared of roping in uncapped players in the XI if current lot does not perform well.
Dwayne Smith might be replaced by Bravo if he is fit. Exclusion of James Faulkner still remains a mystery for everyone. It will be interesting to see if Raina goes in for rawness of Nathu Singh or secrecy of Tejas Baroka.
Likely XI: Brendon McCullum, Jason Roy, Suresh Raina (c), Dwayne Smith/Dwayne Bravo, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ishan Kishan, Ravindra Jadeja, Praveen Kumar/Nathu Singh, Andrew Tye, Basil Thampi, Munaf Patel