Kolkata: A rampaging Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) stand in the way of Delhi Daredevils’ (DD) revival plan as the two teams, with contrasting runs so far, gear up to clash in an Indian Premier League (IPL) fixture on Friday.
There has been no stopping KKR, be it at home or away, in the 10th season of the cash-rich league. KKR have 12 points from eight matches at a commanding net run rate of +1.153 while Mumbai Indians, the other form team, have +0.514.
Time is running out fast for DD, who are languishing at seventh in the eight-team standings with four points from six matches.
Gautam Gambhir’s men have been living out of a suitcase but far from being affected, they have been ruthless on the field and would look to consolidate their position atop the standings and inch closer to play-off.
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After bundling out Royal Challengers Bangalore for a tournament-record low 49, KKR thrashed Rising Pune Supergiant away by seven wickets last night.
Having suffered a hat-trick of losses, Daredevils, on the other hand, will be playing their first match in six days and the captain-mentor duo of Zaheer Khan and Rahul Dravid would hope that they return rejuvenated against an in-form team enjoying a 7-11 win-loss record.
Delhi have a top-class pace bowling attack in Pat Cummins, Chris Morris and Kagiso Rabada, who made an impressive debut in their last match in Mumbai, which they lost by 14 runs.
With Zaheer lending his vast experience and home lad Mohammad Shami’s familiarity with the conditions, Daredevils’ pace battery would relish the transformed Eden Gardens wicket, which aids pace and bounce.
Countering Sunil Narine up front will be their first task as more often the Trinidadian has successfully bamboozled the opposition with his clean striking at the top of the order.
Also read | IPL 2017: Robin Uthappa hits 87 as Knight Riders beat Pune Supergiant by 7 wickets
Narine’s unexpected success with the bat has ensured that KKR do not miss the injured Chris Lynn who’s recovering from a shoulder injury after his two-match blitz.
Narine (182.66) is only second to Lynn (192.30) as far as strike rate is concerned, a fact that can be attributed to KKR’s stupendous success.
Narine scored 34 from 17 balls in a low-scoring tie against RCB where none of the KKR batters could even post 20, and it was worse for Kohli and Co who could not even get to a double digit score.
Last night Narine was run out but his 11-ball 16 had given the start and the momentum needed for Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir to complete the 183 chase by seven wickets and 11 balls to spare.
For DD, half the battle will be won if their pace attack is able to run through the KKR top-order.
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Shami could be the x-factor in these conditions. It’s not only the batsmen who have been doing the job effortlessly for KKR but their spin and pace bowlers have also contributed.
Uthappa may have sealed their chase with a spectacular 47-ball 87 but one cannot discount chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, who removed Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Manoj Tiwary in four balls.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Darren Bravo, Trent Boult, Piyush Chawla, Nathan Coulter Nile, Colin De Grandhomme, Rishi Dhawan, Sayan Ghosh, Shaikb-Al-Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Ishank Jaggi, Kuldeep Yadav, Chris Woakes, Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Ankit Rajpoot, Suryakumar Yadav, Robin Uthappa and Umesh Yadav.
Delhi Daredevils: Zaheer Khan (capt), Mohammad Shami, Shahbaz Nadeem, Jayant Yadav, Amit Mishra, Shreyas Iyer, Sanju Samson, Karun Nair, Rishabh Pant, CV Milind, Khaleel Ahmed, Pratyush Singh, Murugan Ashwin, Aditya Tare, Shashank Singh, Ankit Bawane, Navdeep Saini, Corey Anderson, Angelo Mathews, Pat Cummins, Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris, Carlos Brathwaite, Sam Billings. PTI