Kolkata, Apr 13 : Time has come for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to stop the current slide, especially, after two consecutive loss, almost in similar fashion, or else maintaining the top four position may prove a tough task later, when Dinesh Karthik boys will host MS Dhoni's rampaging brigade -Chennai Super Kings- at Eden Gardens on Sunday.
Two times winners KKR were atop the table in the current edition even after their 5th game, but the CSK toppled them to the second position in the 6th game and took top slot when Dhoni's boys beat them in Chennai by 7 wickets on April 9.
KKR could not reverse their fate even at home in the following game when visiting Sourav Ganguly mentored Delhi Capitals easily beat the host by 7 wickets at Eden on Friday night, the first home loss in the current edition for Shah Rukh Khan franchise. Defending champions Chennai Super Kings, atop the eight-team table with six wins ( 12 points) from their opening seven matches, visit Kolkata where Andre Russell's explosive batting form may be a game changer for the host.
Kolkata have won four matches so far but defeats in their last two games have halted their momentum. Chennai restricted Kolkata to 108/9 in their previous meeting, despite Russell's half-century (unbeaten 50), as the Super Kings claimed a seven-wicket home win. Interestingly, the two consecutive defeats for KKR preceded by losing the toss and rival sent KKR to batting first. Kolkata have lost their toss in their last two matches and been asked to bat, with the general trend at Eden Gardens being to field first.
KKR could not save match despite three changes with overseas contingent. Joe Denly, Carlos Brathwaite and Lockie Ferguson all came into the team, with Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn and Harry Gurney dropping out. The changes proved unsuccessful, however, with Denly out first ball and the two bowlers proving expensive and wicket less. There could therefore be changes
again this time out. Despite defeat to Delhi Capitals on Friday night here, Andre Russell’s explosive form continued as he hit 45 from 21 balls with the bat and took 1-29 from three overs with the ball. Russell became the third IPL batsman to pass 300 runs so far this season as a result. He is also KKR’s top wicket-taker. Shubman Gill was KKR top scorer with 65, his IPL highest and second half-ton, pushed up the order to open. Robin Uthappa moved to 211 runs from seven innings, while Nitish Rana has 180 from six.
Spinner Kuldeep Yadav has taken three wickets so far, but he has a good economy rate and has shown his match-winning ability for India on numerous occasions in the past year too. Chennai Super Kings’ skipper MS Dhoni, the man-of-the match in their most recent games, remains available after escaping a ban for his on-field confrontation with umpire Ulhas Gandhe in that win against Rajasthan.Mitchell Santner and Shardul Thakur returned to the team for that game, in place of Harbhajan Singh and Scott Kuggeleijn. Harbhajan took 2-15 in the previous game against Kolkata but has only played in one match away from Chennai so far this season. Dwayne Bravo is currently
unavailable due to a hamstring injury.
The Super Kings have strength throughout their batting line-up, with Ambati Rayudu scoring 57 in that chase, and Faf du Plessis scoring an unbeaten 43 in the win against Kolkata when these teams last met. Shane Watson has not showed the consistent form he displayed in Pakistan, but the Australian should never be written off at the top of the order either.Chennai’s bowlers have been key to their success so far, meanwhile. Deepak Chahar has taken ten wickets in seven matches so far, while Imran Tahir has weighed in with nine. They have excellent economy rates of 6.29 runs per over and 5.61 runs per over respectively too.
Chennai Super Kings predicted playing 11:
Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Mitchell Santner, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Imran Tahir
Kolkata Knight Riders predicted playing 11:
Joe Denly, Sunil Narine, Nitish Rana, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik, Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Harry Gurney, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna.Play at 4 PM (UNI)