Kolkata Knight Riders. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI)
There have been questions posed on their intent, on a young opener’s form, on a power-hitter’s batting position, and the strategies of a World Cup-winning captain. The team owner was once dissatisfied enough that he went onto term his team’s performance “disappointing, to say the least,” before he deleted it.
The IPL 2021 for the Kolkata Knight Riders so far has been less of a multi-team tournament and more of a horror movie. A solitary win is all they have after five games. Their start of the tournament with a 10-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad already seems to be a tale of history. Ever since then, they have equaled Royal Challengers Bangalore’s winning streak in losses, losing four on the trot.
Two legs – Chennai and Mumbai – of the tournament for them have completed and the caravan now moves to Ahmedabad, where KKR will be playing their next four games. Their unit has not been feeble. No such unit can display the valiance that they did against the Chennai Super Kings, but KKR seems to be walking without a mask in India, expecting to not contract COVID-19. A little too much to expect.
They lost by 10 while chasing 152 courtesy of a dramatic collapse against Mumbai Indians, leading to questions over the intent that skipper Morgan mentioned. Against RCB, who handed them a 38-run defeat, Morgan mysteriously decided to take Varun Chakravarthy out of the attack when he had accounted for two wickets in his opening over, inviting more questions on tactics.
Shubman Gill has been underwhelming in the powerplay, while Nitish Rana has been patchy. In their most recent defeat against Rajasthan Royals, KKR had the most sedate of powerplays: 21/1, which became 61/4 at the halfway mark. A certain Russell, who entered in the 6th over at 31/5 and struck a 22-ball 54 against CSK, was intriguingly held back by the team. By the time he came in against Royals (16th over), it was all but over. And not for the first time did many fail to comprehend the reason behind it.
Meanwhile, skipper Morgan has had a rut of his own with the bat. KKR’s journey has been the perfect example of how poor execution can even make a team comprising the Russells, Morgans, Narines, and the likes struggle badly. They have all left a lot to be desired. Would Ahmedabad be kind to them?
Their rivals on Monday, the Punjab Kings, have been again doing what they are best known for: being unpredictable. They sit at the fifth spot with two wins in five games, starting to put themselves into the risks they often tackle later (read: missing playoff berth by inches). They are yet to find their best XI, and while they have a misfiring overseas contingent to tackle, the constant chopping and changing in the team has not helped their cause either.
Misfiring overseas? Chris Gayle has not been at his best, and the big-hitter Nicholas Pooran has nine runs from four games. Three ducks too. Riley Meredith and Jhye Richardson, on whom truckloads of money were shelled, have not repaid anything, and much to the team’s dismay, on tracks where they possibly had some assistance. As Punjab moves to more spin-friendly venues, it remains to be seen how they will be utilized.
What they can be content about is having the psychological edge of momentum behind them. They underwent a collapse against SRH in the first game of the Chennai leg, but they finished it with a 1-1 win-loss record, handing a crushing nine-wicket defeat to Mumbai Indians.
KL Rahul scored the slowest fifty in the game, while Gayle struck below 125 during his 35-ball stay. But that the victory came after slipping to a hat-trick of losses is enough for them to fly to Ahmedabad with smiling faces. Had it not been for that win, Punjab would have been in the same boat as KKR.
Pitch and conditions
The track at Ahmedabad has a spin-friendly reputation, but it comes down to the soil and conditions. On the red-soil tracks, the spinners have ruled the roost, while the pacers have got plenty for them on black soil, which disintegrates quicker but allows the ball to do things more too.
India and England recently played a five-match series, which was as thrilling as a series gets, at the same venue, and the tracks had something for everyone. Be it Mark Wood, Jofra Archer, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, or Rahul Chahar, Adil Rashid, and Moeen Ali.
Playing Combinations for PBKS vs KKR
Depending on the conditions, one amongst Moises Henriques and Fabien Allen should get a go. After a decent last outing, Ravi Bishnoi should hold his spot.
Predicted XI: Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul (C & WK), Chris Gayle/Dawid Malan, Nicholas Pooran, Deepak Hooda, Shahrukh Khan, Moises Henriques/Fabian Allen, Jalaj Saxena, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Mohammed Shami
Kolkata Knight Riders
KKR is unlikely to change, although they might look at Shakib al Hasan if the track is one suitable for spinners.
Predicted XI: Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Eoin Morgan (C), Dinesh Karthik (WK), Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Shivam Mavi, Prasidh Krishna, Varun Chakravarthy
PBKS vs KKR Head to Head
Played – 27 | Kolkata Knight Riders – 18 | Punjab Kings – 9
PBKS vs KKR Broadcast Details
Match Timings – 7:30 PM IST
TV – Star Sports Network
Live Streaming – Disney+Hotstar
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