Facing defeat in their initial encounters of the tournament, David Warner-led Orange Army & Knight Riders skipper Dinesh Karthik will lock horns at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday evening.
KKR batting coach – Brendon McCullum will expect a thunderous start from its opening duo of Shubhman Gill & Narine along with a more conservative approach shown by its middle-order trio of Dinesh Karthik-Nitish Rana-Eoin Morgan. The aggressive outing showcased by Pat Cummins with the bat against MI will be a bonus for the Knight Riders if he soon erases all the doubts concerning his expensive spell of 3-0-49-0 against MI, which eventually was the margin of the defeat for the Knight Riders.
“It is very unfair to judge him right now” & termed as a “champion bowler” by his captain Dinesh Karthik will be a great motivator for the 27-year-old right-arm pacer to stand true to the expectations from the KKR fan-base. Shivam Mavi, on the other end, will aim to emerge as the gem for his squad partnering with the experienced Pat & provide essential breakthroughs whenever the situation demands so.
The spin duo of Narine-Yadav too will aim to put their best foot forward in the interest of the team thereby taking the maximum advantage of the spin-friendly pitches of UAE as the tournament moves ahead. For KKR, to get their combinations right & bounce back sooner-than being sorry will be the “mantra” in their next few encounters in the tournament.
Post the encounter against SRH today at Abu Dhabi, the team will travel to Dubai & Sharjah in the following week to play Rajasthan & Delhi on September 30 & October 03 respectively. It, therefore, becomes important for the DK- led boys to hit the nail at the right moment and collect the crucial two points today evening. Also, it would be a tough but crucial challenge for the Riders to get the best out of their key foreign players- Eoin Morgan, Andre Russel & Pat Cummins, who did not get enough time in the nets as their mandatory quarantine period finished closer to the contest.
The Orange Army on the other end who looked close-yet-far from victory against the Royal Challengers of Bangalore in their last encounter will aim to improve their scoreboard readings which had 6-single digit scores including 2 ducks. Apart from Bairstow’s 61 (43) & almost run-a-ball knock of 34 from Manish Pandey, none of the other batsmen created a major impact in the score of 153, chasing 164. The loss of Mitchell Marsh due to an injury paves the way for all-rounder Mohammed Nabi, who could be seen as a welcomed addition to their spin department alongside Rashid Khan. The possible inclusion of Kane Williamson will bolster the batting line-up with likes of David Warner, Jonny Bairstow & Manish Pandey in the top order.
On one hand, SRH looks to get their foreign playing combination right whereas KKR will brainstorm on the batting position of Andre Russell who was roped in at No 6 against MI. The batting position of the aggressive-cum-finisher batsmen is a debated topic since the flag-off of the tournament in UAE. The duo of Captain & Coach will play a much important role in this aspect as we move ahead in the competition.
Focussing on the statistical analysis, KKR has a head-to-head advantage over SRH as it has won 10 out of 17 encounters. The Abu Dhabi pitch will be beneficial for both batsmen & bowlers. However, considering the dew factor & the result of the last encounter, it is most likely that both sides would opt to field first.
Probable Playing XI
Kolkata Knight Riders
Sunil Narine, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan, Andre Russel, Dinesh Karthik (c & wk), Nikhil Naik, Pat Cummins, Kuldeep Yadav, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi.
David Warner (c), Jonny Bairstow (wk), Manish Pandey, Priyam Garg, Vijay Shankar, Abhishek Sharma, Mohammed Nabi, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddharth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma.