Kolkata Knight Riders and Gujarat Lions, who will take on each other in the third match of the tenth edition of the tournament, and they will be ready to counter. Knight Riders, for two seasons now, have failed to make their starts count. Lions, on the other pointer, topped the table last season and still stopped out of the tournament losing momentum. And hence, while a good start is crucial to the campaign, sustaining momentum is more important and that’s what these two teams will focus on this time.
Both teams have been seen injuries; they would miss key players for their initial few matches. Lions will have to wait for both Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo to recover from their injuries while the Knight Riders will have to wait for Umesh Yadav to recover from a sore hip.
Absence of Powell though shouldn’t be a concern for Gautam Gambhir and the think-tank as they are banking on Chris Woakes as their front-line all-rounder. In the last season, Knight Riders stayed in dispute just because they did well in their away games. Four wins out of seven away games helped them recover from four losses at the Eden Gardens. With the core already in place, it’ll be important they hit the straps right away and have a positive start in the tournament.
On the first look, appear too heavy for the second time in row. They bought a number of bowlers in the auction, likes of Nathu Singh, Munaf Patel, Basil Thampi and others, they are missing a gun bowler. And, as expected, the onus will be again on Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Shivil Kaushik and James Faulkner to shoulder the bowling responsibilities.
They added Jason Roy, the aggressive England opener, to their squad despite having Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith and Aaron Finch in their ranks. So it would be interesting to see if they do decide to go in with him in the first clash.
Lions won just 17 per cent of their matches batting first, leaving a serious question mark on their ability to set a target.
When: Gujarat Lions vs Kolkata Knight Riders, April 21, 08:00 PM IST
Where: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Scenario 1: GL wins the toss
Toss prediction: GL would choose to bowl first
First innings score prediction: 180-190
Second innings prediction: GL would win the match by 6 wickets with an over in hand
Scenario 2: KKR wins the toss
Toss prediction: KKR would choose to bowl first
First innings score prediction: 200-210
Second innings prediction: GL would win the match by 20-30 runs
At the start of the season, the GL side seems to have the perfect balance in the batting and bowling departments. To open the innings, they would have two of the most destructive T20 batsmen of all time in Aaron Finch and Brendon McCullum. If they switch around for a few overs, both are capable of running away with game. At number 3, the most consistent batsman in the IPL history, Raina will bat who would be hoping to resurrect his international career by doing well this season.
Need to take a call between two West Indians Dwayne Smith and Dwayne Bravo. In the absence of Ravindra Jadeja, they might opt for Bravo to play the all-rounder’s role as he can bowl well at the death too. James Faulkner could be the other all-rounder to don the finisher’s role as well as bowl during slog overs. The expert raveen Kumar and Dhawal Kulkarni will lead the pace battery and Shivil Kaushik and Shadab Jakati are expected to take care of the spin department.
Kolkata Knight Riders:
The2 time champions KKR have been a highly competitive side and a tough one to defeat over the last few years. Gautam Gambhir took up the captainship role, they have been superb especially at home. But they would have to up their game against GL and to start the proceedings, they would have their regular openers Gambhir and Robin Uthappa. Both have formed a tough combination at the top and would be expected to do the same once more. Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan might form the middle order and either of Shakib Al Hasan or the in-form Chris Lynn might get a look in.
Andre Russell’s absence would be a big blow for them and to replace him, they have slotted in the Englishman Chris Woakes. Their latest coming player Trent Boult to the squad could be the other pacer in the XI.