After their second loss of the season and the first at home, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have a new challenge at hand in the form of Virat Kohli led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
KKR’s three-match winning run was brought to an abrupt halt at the hands of Gujarat Lions where Suresh Raina dominated the Knights’ bowling attack. While the batsmen have performed admirably, it is the bowling which has been KKR’s achilles heel in this tournament.
We take a look at the probable XI of KKR to face RCB at Eden Gardens on Sunday.
OPENERS: GAUTAM GAMBHIR AND SUNIL NARINE
After a stop-gap experiment with Colin de Grandhomme failed, Sunil Narine was back at the top against Gujarat Lions. Similar to his exploits against Kings XI Punjab, Narine scored runs only off boundaries, the Caribbean smashed a 17-ball 42. His blazing innings will surely solve Knights’ opening conundrum for the moment. However, Gautam Gambhir’s runs will still remain crucial for the two-time champions in their quest to topple RCB.
MIDDLE ORDER: ROBIN UTHAPPA, MANISH PANDEY, YUSUF PATHAN AND SURYAKUMAR YADAV
With Uthappa having two 60+ scores in the last three matches and Manish Pandey in the race of Orange Cap, KKR has no major concerns in their middle order. Yusuf Pathan has too displayed street-smart cricketing skills while scoring a fabulous half-century against Delhi. The trio has performed whenever the team needed them the most. Thanks to their prolific show with the bat, vice-captain Suryakumar Yadav is yet to get any major time at the wicket batting at no.6.
ALL-ROUNDERS: SHAKIB AL HASAN AND CHRIS WOAKES
Shakib played first match of the season against Gujarat but received some brutal hitting from Lions openers Finch and Baz. Woakes too went for quite a handful in the last match, though he scalped the important wicket of McCullum. The two all-rounders will retain their places in all probability against RCB, but we cannot rule out the inclusion of unknown package, Rovman Powell.
SPINNER: KULDEEP YADAV/PIYUSH CHAWLA
The chinaman has been impressive in all the matches played thus far, yet Kuldeep has failed to be the X-factor in KKR’s bowling line up. Six wickets in 5 matches at an economy of 7.63 is useful, but suspect more is expected out of him. KKR might mull including Piyush’s experience in the XI, but we feel it will be harsh to axe Kuldeep.
PACERS: NATHAN COULTER-NILE/TRENT BOULT AND UMESH YADAV
Gautam Gambhir will have a few headaches in the fast bowling department. The loss against Gujarat might not see them press the panic button, but KKR surely needs to improve in this segment. Umesh did not have a great day in office as his performance has dipped since the 4-wicket burst against Kings XI Punjab. After a Man of the Match performance against DD, Coulter-Nile too failed to replicate the same performance in the next match.