The Knight Riders will look to pile more misery on the Lions when the two sides meet at Eden Gardens on Friday.Match 23 of the 2017 edition of the IPL will see the high-flying Kolkata Knight Riders welcome the rock-bottom Gujarat Lions to Eden Gardens on Friday.
The hosts are in imperious form and will not want to slip up against the worst-performing bowling attack in the competition. It is easier said than done, however, especially if the Gujarati franchise hit their straps with the bat.
KKR vs GL | Friday 21 April 2016 | Eden Gardens, Kolkata | 16:30
To Win Match
Knight Riders 8/10 | Tie 35/1 | Lions 1/1
Kolkata Knight Riders
On current form, the Knight Riders should canter to victory in this match, but things are often not so straightforward when it comes to T20 cricket. One of the best batting units going up against the weakest attacks in competition – the men in purple should walk it!
Manish Pandey and Gautam Gambhir have been the standout batsmen so far for the Kolkata side, scoring 221 and 196 respectively. The latter is currently averaging 65.33 while the former’s average of 221 is slightly skewed as he has only been dismissed once in his four innings.
While they’ll look to these two for the bulk of their runs, it might be worth throwing Sunil Narine in to open things up. It’s a plan that has worked with varying degrees of success so far, but I feel that the West Indian can really get his teeth into the Lions’ bowlers early on.
If he can get a quick-fire 30 or 40 in the first five or six overs, he’ll lay the perfect foundation for the rest of his side – especially if they are being asked to chase down a score in excess of 190. As much is entirely possible too, especially if you consider the amount of world-class batting talent that the Lions boast.
I fully expect Nathan Coulter-Nile to keep his place in the side following his heroics with the ball against the Daredevils over the weekend. His four overs went for a paltry 22 while his three-wicket return was instrumental in his side’s four-wicket victory.
The big Australian also provides balance to the attack, especially seeing as Chris Woakes and Umesh Yadav – who despite taking the bulk of the side’s wickets – have been pretty expensive throughout the tournament. Expect more of the same from Narine and Kuldeep Yadav who consistently keep things tight in the middle overs.
In my last Gujarat Lions preview, I spoke extensively on the Lions’ inefficiencies with ball in hand. That glaring weakness came back to bite them again earlier this week as they conceded 212 runs against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, eventually losing by 21-runs.
I won’t even get into talking about the Lions’ bowling attack – it’s no good, that’s all you need to know! At this point, the side needs to become like Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson: Don’t worry about how many goals you concede, just make sure to outscore your opponent!
With that in mind, they most certainly have the kind of top order capable of outscoring anyone in the competition. Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina, Aaron Finch and Dwayne Smith all have the ability to carry the side to the play-offs but only McCullum and Raina have performed so far.
I also feel like they’d be a completely different outfit with Dwayne Bravo back in the mix. The West Indian all-rounder will bring balance and experience to a bowling attack that has only claimed 16 wickets in five matches. That’ll likely improve once Bravo comes back into the side and bowls alongside Andrew Tye, who has been a revelation for the franchise this season.
Until he returns to the side, I just don’t see them winning any games against the stronger sides in the IPL. The Kolkata Knight Riders – being one of the best in the competition – should prove too stern a test for Raina and his men.
Verdict: Kolkata Knight Riders 8/10
This is the sort of price you dream of as a cricket punter – 8/10 offers massive value, especially in the context of this season’s IPL. The Knight Riders should prove far too strong for the Gujarat Lions who have been leaning far too heavily on their top order to keep them competitive. Get on the home side!