The Rising Pune Supergiant and the Kolkata Knight Riders go head to head in what promises to be a thrilling IPL encounter this Wednesday.
A marvelous showdown awaits in Pune, after the Knight Riders humiliated the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday and the Rising Pune Supergiant orchestrated a fine heist against the Mumbai Indians on Monday.
The Supergiant’s attempted revival will get another chance, while the Knight Riders will be afforded the chance to stay in touch with Mumbai at the top of the 2017 standings.
RPS v KKR | Wednesday, 26 April 2017 | Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium | 16:30
To Win Match
Supergiant 92/100 | Tie 35/1 | Knight Riders 92/100
Rising Pune Supergiant
Now with more wins than losses this season, Pune’s topsy-turvy campaign has found and even keel this week – and could go a step further by outdoing a team they lost to twice last year.
Peculiar scheduling saw them play just one game last week, but seven days later has brought substantially busier times – but also the opportunity to capitalise on momentum.
They’re returning to the venue that brought victory over the defending champions Sunrisers, but defeat to the struggling Delhi Daredevils, earlier in the 2017 tournament.
England all-rounder Ben Stokes was outstanding against Mumbai. His slower ball is finally working well – and his nagging variations will be key against a Kolkata batting order often quick to pounce on predictability.
Unchanged against Mumbai, Pune should stick to their winning formula, which will leave South Africa’s Faf du Plessis on the sidelines again. That said, all-rounder Dan Christian wasn’t used much with the ball on Monday – and du Plessis is a stronger batting option.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Kolkata need to ensure the highs achieved against the Royal Challengers, who were dismissed for the lowest score in the tournament’s 10-edition history, don’t come crashing down in Pune.
They sport the superior record against Wednesday’s opposition and, with impetus on the side of both teams, this will be a particularly appealing pause amid a veritable marathon of a tournament.
Kolkata are statistically the more ambitious of the two teams in the batting Powerplay, with captain Gautam Gambhir’s penchant for forcing the pace – overly so, sometimes – evident throughout.
Pune could look to combat this by not holding back leg-spinner Imran Tahir early, as they did against Mumbai, but then might be short of slow-bowling overs against the powerful Yusuf Pathan, Manish Pandey and company later.
The Knight Riders’ trio of unsung all-rounders – England’s Chris Woakes, New Zealand’s Colin de Grandhomme and Australia’s Nathan Coulter-Nile, meanwhile, is taking shape nicely. Wednesday is another opportunity for the tri-fector to shine with bat or ball.
However the XI stacks up, the visiting side won’t want a loss at such a crucial juncture of the tournament, shortly before the return fixtures get underway. Like last year, Kolkata will insist on twin wins over Pune.
Verdict: Rising Pune Supergiant 92/100
This one is a tough to call, as Kolkata boast the mental zeal that Pune sometimes lack, while the Supergiant have the physical prowess that the Knight Riders occasionally lose. Ultimately, though, Pune – at their home ground – are backed to win.