Kolkata, April 19 (IANS) With their title defence in a spot of bother after they lost three away games, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will look to maintaining their perfect home record in the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) when they lock horns with a resurgent Chennai Super Kings (CSK) here Saturday.
With just two wins – both on home turf – from five games, the Knights badly need to put it across their Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led rivals in a repeat of last year’s final when they won the cliffhanger to get their maiden IPL crown.
While KKR have been fighting their own demons, especially on the batting front, CSK too have been inconsistent with their performance this season.
After starting on a losing note against Mumbai Indians, the Chennai franchise crushed Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils, but in between were humbled by the Pune Warriors.
The Knight Riders are now placed a dismal seventh on the points table after losing against Kings XI from a virtual winning position and have their task cut out in the afternoon outing at the iconic Eden Gardens.
The KKR batsmen – barring skipper Gautam Gambhir and English recruit Eoin Morgan – have looked off-colour so far. While Gambhir, with 235 runs in the tournament, has been solid, his opening partner Manvinder Bisla has failed to click.
The Knight Riders, therefore, may get tempted to play explosive Kiwi batsman Brendon McCullum, who is yet to get a game.
However, with Caribbean spinner Sunil Narine and South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis being integral to the team’s scheme of things and Morgan in red-hot form, it will be a tough ask for Gambhir to drop Sri Lankan offie Sachithra Senanayeke, who has been bowling economically.
The prolonged slump of big hitting Yusuf Pathan and middle-order bat Monoj Tiwary has only added to their woes while Kallis has not matched his bowling performance with a decent batting show.
“Morgan and I should have finished the game,” a dejected Gambhir had said after seeing his side lose to Pune Warriors by six runs when his partnership with the English batsman had almost taken the Knights to the finishing line.
While there are worrying signs for the KKR batsmen, their bowlers, led by Narine and well supported by medium pacers Rajat Bhatia and Lakshmipathy Balaji, have been in fine nick.
The Super Kings too have a fair amount of firepower in the bowling armoury comprising offie Ravichandran Ashwin and all-rounders Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja and Albie Morkel.
If Mike Hussey, with two fifties, is solid at the top, the Super Kings have the ever-dependable Dhoni who has the ability to single-handedly change the course of the game. They would hope their domestic bats – Suresh Raina, Murali Vijay and S. Badrinath – return to form.