Mumbai Kolkata Knight Riders are expected to continue their risky approach, despite mixed returns, when they play Punjab Kings in the Indian Premier League here on Friday.
KKR went into Friday’s game with a three wicket loss to RCB, but were able to close the game on a subpar total.
Punjab started their campaign with a win but they had expected a better bowling performance after getting over 200 runs in their first match. South African speedster Kagiso Rabada is expected to play after completing his three-day quarantine and that will give a big boost to the Punjab onslaught.
Succeeding at the Wankhede, where the course is relatively new, has not been easy as can be seen in the two matches played at the venue so far.
It may still be early in the two-month IPL, but the toss already plays a major role in the outcome of the game with dew coming into play in the second half of the game.
Kolkata’s openers Ajinkya Rahane and the attacking Venkatesh Iyer died cheaply against RCB and the duo are said to be looking for a strong start to the team.
While skipper Shreyas Iyer, who was in good form despite the failure against RCB, would be an important cog in the wheel but would need support from the likes of Nitish Rana.
For left-handed Rana, consistency would be key. Aside from the duo, the middle-order responsibility must be borne by Sam Billings, Sheldon Jackson and the big hit Andre Russell.
The KKR lineup has batters ready to take on any attack and management hopes they all fire at the same time on Punjab.
On the bowling front, pacesetter Umesh Yadav was outstanding in both games with the new ball. Experienced Kiwi bowler Tim Southee, who replaced Shivam Mavi and took three wickets, also plays a key role up front.
The concern for Kolkata would be in the form of spinner Varun Chakaravarthy, who needs to hit the belts quickly.
For Punjab, much would depend on how their top three skipper Mayank Agarwal, the flamboyant Shikhar Dhawan and Sri Lankan Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who played a match-winning cameo against RCB, perform.
While head coach Anil Kumble would have expected more contributions from the middle class, Odean Smith and Shahrukh Khan proved their mettle as they sent the squad home against RCB and are eager to be back on the points.
It remains to be seen if Under-19 World Cup star Raj Bawa, who failed on IPL debut, will get another chance.
Punjab bowlers came up against a marauding Faf Du Plessis in the first game and players like Sandeep Sharma, Arshdeep Singh and Odean Smith would have to up their game against KKR.
The eight overs of the spin duo Rahul Chahar and Harpreet Brar could also make a difference in the game.
Teams (of): Kolkata Knight Riders: Aaron Finch, Abhijeet Tomar, Ajinkya Rahane, Baba Indrajith, Nitish Rana, Pratham Singh, Rinku Singh, Shreyas Iyer, Ashok Sharma, Pat Cummins, Rasikh Dar, Shivam Mavi, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav , Varun Chakaravarthy, Aman Khan, Andre Russell, Anukul Roy, Chamika Karunaratne, Mohammed Nabi, Ramesh Kumar, Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer, Sam Billings, Sheldon Jackson.
Punjab Kings: Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, Arshdeep Singh, Kagiso Rabada, Jonny Bairstow, Rahul Chahar, Harpreet Brar, Shahrukh Khan, Prabhsimran Singh, Jitesh Sharma, Ishan Porel, Liam Livingstone, Odean Smith, Sandeep Sharma, Raj Angad Bawa, Dha Prerak Mankad, Vaibhav Arora, Writtick Chatterjee, Baltej Dhanda, Ansh Patel, Nathan Ellis, Atharva Taide, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Benny Howell.
Match starts at 7:30 PM.
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