Going by the current form, it can be a David vs Goliath clash as table toppers Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) host bottom placed Gujarat Lions (GL) in an Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter.
KKR vs GL: Will Gambhir & Co. score a double over Gujarat?
The last time these two teams met, Lions had to face ‘Lynnsanity’ and the result was a 10-wicket demolition of the Gujarat franchisee. Though this time the towering Lynn sixes will not be on display, but KKR will start as clear favourites on their home turf against GL.
Atop the standings, the Knights have responded very well to demanding situations and are trying their best to leave the chasing pack behind. They have been able to win the crunch moments of the game which have overshadowed the minor flaws from SRK’s men. Manish Pandey continues to excel with the bat and has been ably supported by skipper Gautam Gambhir.
Yusuf Pathan and Robin Uthappa too have chipped in with match winning contributions when it matters, ensuring KKR are comfortably placed in the top of the table. The bowling also looks settled with Sunil Narine leading the spin wing with a touch of class. Umesh’s raw pace bolstered the pace department of KKR before he was hit by the Risabh Pant. Coulter-Nile too made a mark in his very first game against Delhi. Hence the team management will have a tough time choosing the final XI.
Gujarat face the daunting task of defeating the Knights at Eden Gardens
On the other hand, Gujarat Lions, lying at the bottom of the standings after losing four from five matches, are facing a hard time. Last year the franchisee finished at No.1 after the league stage, but this time the possibility of the same looks very feeble. Caribbean all rounder Dwayne Bravo's absence have hurt them the most as the bowling attack looks toothless without him. They included Tye to strengthen the same, but the other bowlers except Praveen Kumar have failed to support the Aussie seamer.
The lackluster bowling seems to have affected the strong batting line up too for the Lions. While Kiwi Brendon McCullum have been among the runs, the inconsistency of others like skipper Raina, Finch and Dwayne Smith have compounded problems for the team. A few questions have also been raised at the batting order where they used the England swashbuckling opener Jason Roy at No.6. With their backs against the wall, it remains to be seen as to how Gujarat perform against mighty KKR.
Top Batsman- Manish Pandey
— Venky Mysore (@VenkyMysore) April 18, 2017
Manish Pandey’s stint with the national squad seems to finally reflect in his performance for the Knight Riders. Trying to force his way in the reckoning for the Champions Trophy, Pandey has scored 221 runs in 4 innings, remaining not out in three of them. KKR is reaping big rewards from Pandey’s quality of finishing off matches. The experienced batsman showed impeccable composure while guiding KKR to a nerve-wracking win over Delhi in the last match. If Gambhir achieves a bit more consistency, then KKR has genuine reasons to hope for an unprecedented third title.
Top Bowler- Andrew Tye
— IPLClub (@my_iplclub) April 20, 2017
Coming late into the mix of things, Aussie Andrew Tye made an impact in his very first game, bagging a hat-trick and finishing with mind boggling figures of 5/17. In three matches, he has snared seven wickets is Lions’ leading wicket taker by a long distance. Having a potent weapon in form of a deadly yorker, Tye’s accurate death bowling was Gujarat’s need of the hour. Up against a strong KKR batting line up, the pacer will have to be at the top of his game for the Lions to come out victorious.
Top All Rounder- Yusuf Pathan
The hard-hitting batsman played a mature innings against Delhi in the last match, bailing Kolkata out of a precarious situation. While KKR lost three wickets very quickly, the elder Pathan brother curbed his attacking instinct. Catering to the situation, Yusuf absorbed the pressure and focused on keeping the scoreboard ticking before coming up with the big hits in the later part of his innings. Though he could not finish off the match, Pathan’s contribution was immensely significant in KKR’s win. His part time off spin also comes to the team’s rescue at times. It was Yusuf’s wicket of Dhawan again SRH which was the initial breakthrough for KKR.
Punt Player- Ishan Kishan
18-year old Kishan came into limelight after captaining India U-19 colts in the 2016 World Cup in Bangladesh, where they finished runners up. Hailing from the lands of MS Dhoni, the teenager is an aggressive batsman who can also don the wicket keeping gloves. Gujarat Lions has showed substantial faith in the rookie, promoting him ahead of the likes of Dinesh Karthik and Jadeja. In the last game against RCB, though Gujarat lost, but Kishan’s 16-ball 39 gave enough glimpse of his talent. Already having destructive batsmen like McCullum and Finch in the team, Kishan’s potential enhances Lions’ batting might.
Match starts at: 8:00 PM IST
TV telecast: Sony Max (Hindi) & Sony Six HD (English)
Online streaming: hotstar.com
Cover Image Credits: @iqbalFaisal(Twitter)