Out of contention for a play-off berth, a brazen Rising Pune Supergiants will stand in the way
of Kolkata Knight Riders’ revival when they clash in an Indian Premier League T20 match in Kolkata on Saturday.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side is the first team to make an exit in the ninth edition after they lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad in their previous match but left with three matches, the Supergiants will be keen to sign off on a high.
The Pune franchise is owned by a Kolkata businessman and they will make themselves feel at ‘home’ while a rejuvenated Knight Riders back after a five-day break will be desperate to
arrest their slide.
From occupying the pole position midway into the season, KKR’s slide begun after their loss to Gujarat Lions and they have slipped to fourth place and are now in the danger of
slipping out of top four.
One of the big factors that’s eluding KKR is Sunil Narine’s X-factor something that has contributed to their triumphs in 2012 and 2014 with the off-spinner claiming 74
wickets in four seasons.
Back after a remedial action, the ‘mystery’ spinner Narine has only managed six wickets from six outings at an economy of 7.34 as the batsmen are no more afraid to go for
big hits against him.
Narine also missed KKR’s first two matches because of his father’s demise and was nursing a finger injury to miss their last two matches, against Bangalore and Gujarat.
Lack of zing from an otherwise low and slow Eden Gardens track also meant that their spin strength has gradually fizzled out.
Keeping this in mind, the home team has prepared a rank-turner for tomorrow’s match as Narine who was seen bowling hard at the nets may return to replace Brad Hogg.
But the ploy may also backfire against a team who have a potent spin attack in the Ashwin duo of Ravichandran and Murugan to go with Aussie leg-spinner Adam Zampa on a high
after his six-wicket burst against Hyderabad.
For a team that normally goes with six bowlers, KKR would hope to make use of the conditions and restrict their opposition but at the same time skipper Gautam Gambhir may
think of promoting Andre Russell up the order.
The scorecard may show that KKR had lost the plot against Gujarat after being 24/4 inside the Power-play to go down by five wickets while defending 158 but on that day their most
explosive batsman Andre Russell could not get to bat.