Kolkata Knight Riders would carry forward its new-found proficiency when it takes on the formidable Chennai Super Kings in its first outing of the IPL-7 season at the Eden Gardens here on Tuesday. True to their colour, Knight Riders have hit the purple patch with four successive wins to brighten their chances of making it to the knockout stage.
With the elections holding up an early opportunity to start at its preferred venue, KKR will be eager to extend its successful run against CSK appearing for the first time before the home supporters. Having all its three remaining matches at home and with 12 points — six wins and five losses — in its kitty, fourth-placed KKR would be keen to consolidate its position in the top-half of the league standings.
The recent form of its opening pair — captain Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa — has ably contributed in lifting the batting standards and this should boost the confidence of the home side.
Uthappa has commendably shaken off the tag of underperformer after some forgetful seasons and has emerged the most prolific scorer for the team. The KKR opener has been the most impressive performer in the last six matches, with two half-centuries and scores of 40 plus in the other four knocks.
Gambhir has also led by example scoring three successive half-centuries in the last six matches to haul his side out of its misery. The Gambhir-Uthappa combination has really lifted the team’s batting spirit, to complement the good work done by the bowlers.Effective Narine
Sunil Narine has continued to bemuse the batsmen with his guiles and has remained the most effective of the KKR bowlers. The spinner has already picked up 15 wickets while remaining the most economical of all in the squad. He will be more difficult to get away on the slow track of the Eden Gardens. Added to this is the disciplined bowling of Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav and Shakib Al Hasan, which has helped KKR restrict its opponents in the last few outings.
Gambhir now faces the challenge of guarding the team against possible complacency and avenge the 34-run loss it suffered against CSK at Ranchi in the first leg of the tournament.
A shock defeat against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday looks to have dented the pride of CSK, which will try to get back to winning ways on Tuesday. Captain M.S. Dhoni will be keen that his side performs to its potential and makes it to the top of the standings.
The contest at the Eden is likely to be a close one as the home side unleashes its bowling talent against the visitor’s impressive line-up.