Stung by three successive losses, Indian Premier League (IPL) newcomers Gujarat Lions will aim to bounce back when they meet the in-form Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday.
Gujarat have been the team to watch out for from the beginning of the season. They kicked-off their campaign with a series of wins, but lately they have been struggling. On Friday night they suffered a five-wicket loss against Sunrisers Hyderabad and they will now have to deal with a very consistent KKR side.
The Knights have grabbed two back-to-back wins from their previous outings including a last over thriller against Kings XI Punjab on Wednesday. They have collected 12 points from eight games and Gautam Gambhir and his men are showing no signs of slowing down yet.
The captain has led from the front alongwith his opening partner Robin Uthappa. Both have scored plenty of runs, including a 101-run stand against Kings XI in the last game.
The duo have been well supported by the likes of Manish Pandey and Suryakumar Yadav. Yusuf Pathan and Andre Russell too have come up with crucial knocks in tricky situations.
Russell has also contributed with the ball. He has time and again bowled in difficult situations and delivered. The biggest example was his last over in the previous game where he gave away just four runs to gift his side a seven-run victory.
KKR’s mystery spinner Sunil Narine, who is undergoing treatment for a bruised finger, is likely to make a comeback against Gujarat.
For the visitors, their top order trio of Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch and Dwayne Smith had been terrific in the first few matches but of late they seemed to have lost a bit of colour. Even Raina is struggling with his form and has scored just one fifty in 10 games.
His half-ton, however came in a losing cause as Sunrisers easily overhauled the target with five wickets to spare in their last game.
If they are to dent KKR’s chances of winning the game, they will have to bat well in the slow and low Eden strip but with the armoury of slow bowlers that the hosts have it would not be easy.
Raina would want to pack his side with spinners on a track like this and therefore the 44-year-old Pravin Tambe might get a look in besides Chinaman tweaker Shivil Kaushik.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Andre Russell, Suryakumar Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Brad Hogg, Shakib Al Hasan, Umesh Yadav, Morne Morkel, Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Jason Holder, Manan Sharma, Colin Munro, Kuldeep Yadav, Sheldon Jackson, Ankit Rajpoot, Jaydev Unadkat, Rajagopal Sathish
Gujarat Lions: Suresh Raina (captain), Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja, James Faulkner, Ishan Kishan, Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Shivil Kaushik, Sarabjit Ladda, Amit Mishra, Akashdeep Nath, Dwayne Bravo, Paras Dogra, Eklavya Dwivedi, Shadab Jakati, Pradeep Sangwan, Jaydev Shah, Umang Sharma, Dale Steyn, Pravin Tambe, Andrew Tye.