Trying to maintain their dominance at the top of the table, in-form KKR face low on confidence GL in an IPL 10 match at the Eden Gardens.
While many expect KKR not to tinker with the winning combination, often they have done the opposite catering to the nature of the pitch and other aspects. We try to take a look at the probable KKR XI expected to face Gujarat on Friday.
OPENERS: GAUTAM GAMBHIR(C) AND COLIN DE GRANDHOMME/SHAKIB AL HASAN
Five matches into the competition, KKR have already tried three different opening combinations. While Gambhir-Lynn was an instant hit, Narine too was a success in one match. The two time winners sent de Grandhomme to open against Delhi, but the Black Caps all rounder could score only 1 before holing out in the deep. As far as the opening duo is concerned, KKR are keeping their cards very close. Eying to surprise the opposition in every match, it will not be astonishing if we see someone like Suryakumar Yadav to open the innings. With Shakib waiting in the ranks, de Grandhomme's place in the XI is also under the scanner, especially after his average performance in the last two games.
MIDDLE ORDER: ROBIN UTHAPPA(WK), MANISH PANDEY, YUSUF PATHAN AND SURYAKUMAR YADAV
— CricFit (@CricFit) April 15, 2017
Even with all Indian batsman, KKR arguably have the strongest middle order among all the teams. Their depth in batting once again came to the fore against Delhi, where KKR successfully chased a target of 169 even after being reduced to 21/3. The century partnership between Pandey and Pathan proved the Knights are not solely dependent on GG at the top. Though Uthappa has paid price on innumerable occasions for his habit of playing too many shots too early, he too notched up a match-winning fifty against SRH. Similarly Yadav's cameos down the order has helped KKR on numerous occasions. In a nutshell, the performance of this quartet holds the key for KKR to triumph against any opposition.
ALL ROUNDERS: CHRIS WOAKES
While KKR will have a tough choice to make between de Grandhomme and Shakib, Woakes for the time being has been able to cling onto his spot in the XI, thanks to some neat bowling efforts. With more and more matches, there has been a significant improvement in Woakes' bowling. But it is his batting which still has a lot left to be desired. His dismissal against Delhi almost dashed KKR's hopes of victory, before Manish Pandey hoicked one for a six. The sooner Woakes is able to translate his potential with the willow, the better it is for the Knights.
SPINNERS: SUNIL NARINE AND KULDEEP YADAV
After being plagued with bowling action issues in the past couple of seasons, Sunil Narine is again proving to be KKR's trump card this year. The Caribbean spinner has been quite economical so far in the tournament, applying pressure continuously from one end. With batsmen trying to play safe against him, Narine does not have big numbers to show in the wickets column. In his presence, rookie Kuldeep also is blossoming at the other end. These two bowling in tandem is proving to be KKR's biggest weapon in the bowling department.
PACERS: UMESH YADAV AND NATHAN COULTER-NILE/TRENT BOULT
Barring that one over against Rishabh Pant, Umesh's performance in IPL 10 has been according to expectations. After a brief rest, he has been bowling in full throttle for KKR. Gambhir would look upto the Indian quick to provide the early inroads against Gujarat. However, the second seamer's slot is up for grabs with Boult and Coulter-Nile being the frontrunners. While Boult performed reasonably well, Coulter-Nile scalped three wickets in his very first game. While the Aussie will fancy his chances if there is more bounce in the wicket, Boult will have an upper hand in case the conditions are favourable for swing bowling.