We are halfway through Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017 as Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) host Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in match 30. With both sides featuring in the top 4 of the points table, the battle is expected to go down the wire. A passionate and aggressive captain such as Gautam Gambhir will be up against Steven Smith’s side that are slowly progressing. In-form RPS will look to earn their first victory versus KKR and notch up their fourth consecutive win in the process. Nonetheless, it won’t be easy as KKR are high on confidence after defending 132 runs versus Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), bundling RCB for 49 — the lowest score in IPL. Both sides will be at par when they lock horns at Maharashtra Cricket Association in Pune. Full Cricket Scorecard, Rising Pune Supergiant vs Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2017, Match 30
RPS are getting into the groove in a crucial phase of the tournament. After a scratchy start, they couldn’t afford more setbacks. The camp responded in the best way possible and have emerged victorious in some tight finishes. Such things keep a side in good stead if they are to go the distance. Nonetheless, the playoffs berth is still far away and Smith’s camp will take one game at a time. With everything going right at the moment, there seems little sense to alter the winning combination in a blink-and-a-miss format.
Rahul Tripathi and Ajinkya Rahane have made a good opening pair. Tripathi’s confidence and clean-hitting have given extra time to Rahane to get a look-in. The pair has attained a certain understanding and that is evident in some blistering starts provided by them. The duo will look for another cracking start and set the tone for the innings. It is a no-brainer as to who will come at No. 3. Smith owns the position and will be followed by MS Dhoni.
Dhoni, after his blitz against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), tanked against Mumbai Indians (MI). Nonetheless, RPS are starting to keep him more involved and have allowed him to bat in a position wherein he can consume good amount of deliveries before initiating the late onslaught. Ben Stokes, Manoj Tiwary and Dan Christian make an interesting middle order, but have to come good collectively.
Tiwary has suddenly grown as a finisher and is timing the ball well in the death overs. If Stokes fires, RPS will be able to post anything in excess of 180. Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur will follow at No. 8 and 9 respectively. Jaydev Unadkat and Imran Tahir will fill up the remaining two slots at No. 10 and 11.
RPS did not have a promising bowling line-up at the start of the tournament. Ashok Dinda looked to misfire in their second edition as well and prompted the team management to look for alternatives. However, after their 27-run win over RCB, RPS have shown faith in their bowling arsenal. As a result, RPS bowlers kept themselves involved in a crunch tie versus MI and managed a narrow 3-run victory.
There were quite a few stars in RPS’ nail-biting encounter against MI. Stokes and Christian kept it tight from their ends, Tahir and Sundar chipped in with vital breakthroughs, whereas Unadkat defended 17 off the last 6 balls. Shardul, on the other hand, has bowled with steam and seems to enjoy the backing of the management. On a whole, they will like to come good against a batting-heavy line-up of KKR.
RPS likely XI: Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Tripathi, Steven Smith (c), MS Dhoni (wk), Ben Stokes, Manoj Tiwary, Dan Christian, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Imran Tahir, Jaydev Unadkat
Moving on to KKR, they are on a high after humiliating RCB in their own den on Sunday. Virat Kohli-led side were bundled out for 49. A star-studded line-up could not even cross the 50-run mark and succumbed to the worst total in IPL history. Not even a single batsmen entered double digits as KKR bowlers raised the bar defending a paltry score. Their batting have clicked so far and seem unstoppable.
Gambhir will open the innings with Sunil Narine. The strategy of promoting Narine up the order has worked wonders as the West Indian has gone bonkers from ball one. He has given enough cushion to the middle order batsmen to buy time and post in excess of 180. His cameos against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), Gujarat Lions (GL) and RCB resulted in a flying start for KKR. Robin Uthappa will come at No. 3 followed by Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan.
Pathan will like to up the ante after his only valuable knock against Delhi Daredevils (DD) in IPL 10 so far. Suryakumar Yadav, at No. 6, has remained ineffective and will be the only cause of concern for his side. He will be made to work hard against the likes of Tahir, Stokes and Christian. Colin de Grandhomme has two ducks in the edition, but has chipped in with wickets from his end. His 1.4-0-4-3 keeps him ahead of Shakib Al Hasan in the race for the all-rounders’ spot.
Chris Woakes has done a reasonable job, especially with the ball. He will bat at No. 8 and look for regular breakthroughs when RPS come out to bat. Nathan Coulter-Nile, Umesh Yadav and Kuldeep Yadav will fill up the lower order before turning the heat when KKR take on the field.
Coulter-Nile made a big statement by showing character and exploiting the conditions in KKR’s defence against RCB. He extracted extra bounce and pace, and kept bowling in the right channels. He was well supported by Umesh and Woakes. It was pleasing to see Umesh troubling Chris Gayle in the previous encounter and will look to move in same stead in Pune. In the spin arsenal, Kuldeep and Narine will keep things tight by resorting to wicket-to-wicket lines and turning the ball under lights.
KKR likely XI: Gautam Gambhir (c), Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa (wk), Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, Colin de Grandhomme, Chris Woakes, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Nathan Coulter-Nile
There was enough breeze during the last clash in Pune. If conditions remain the same, it will help the pacers. However, dew can also be an issue in the night game. Talking about the form of both sides, there is little to separate. KKR will have a slight edge with the head-to-head tie (2-0) and better record in Pune. To top it all, their 82-run victory against RCB will also keep them upbeat against the hosts.
Rising Pune Supergiant: Steven Smith (c), MS Dhoni (wk), Mayank Agarwal, Baba Aparajith, Ankush Bains, Ankit Sharma, Rajat Bhatia, Deepak Chahar, Daniel Christian, Rahul Chahar, Ashok Dinda, Faf du Plessis, Lockie Ferguson, Usman Khawaja, Jaskaran Singh, Saurabh Kumar, Ben Stokes, Milind Tandon, Manoj Tiwary, Jaydev Unadkat, Adam Zampa
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (c), Robin Uthappa (wk), Manish Pandey, Darren Bravo, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan, Suryakumar Yadav, Sunil Narine, Trent Boult, Umesh Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Chris Lynn, Rovman Powell, Ishank Jaggi, Chris Woakes, Rishi Dhawan, Sheldon Jackson (wk), Ankit Rajpoot, Piyush Chawla, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Sayan Ghosh
Time: 20:00 PM IST
Time: 20:00 PM IST