Defending champion Kolkata Knight Riders has found its war cry Korbo, Lorbo, Jeetbo (we will do, we will fight, we will win) turning pale as its journey in the sixth season of Indian Premier League approaches precariously close to a premature end.
Impaired by this unlikely situation, the 65th match of the league fixture remains of less consequence as the seventh-placed Knight Riders takes on bottom-lying Pune Warriors India in its last ‘home’ outing here at the JSCA International Stadium on Wednesday.
The league phase has almost reached home stretch and KKR (on 12 points from 14 matches) has all but crashed out of contention. With barely two rounds to go, three teams have already reached 20 points and two more are lying ahead on 16, putting KKR on a queer pitch.
Captain Gautam Gambhir, refusing to be downcast by his team’s unfavourable situation in the league standings, will aspire to maintain the winning momentum that his team has discovered lately.
KKR beat Pune Warriors at the latter’s home on May 9, and won its next outing against Royal Challengers Bangalore (May 12). This is the first time KKR has won two matches in succession this season, and the captain tried to pick up the positives from the team’s late resurgence. KKR will look for success again when it takes on PWI for the second time in seven days.
The home team’s batting has run into trouble in most occasions and that has spoiled the defending champions’ prospects of making it to the play-offs. Gambhir, the leading run getter for the host, has had only Jacques Kallis and Eoin Morgan for company on some occasions, while the others have fallen short.
A shade better
The host’s bowling has been a shade better — relying on the finesse of West Indian spinner Sunil Narine, who regained the Purple Cap with a four wicket haul against RCB. The elusive balance that KKR has managed to gain with successive wins will spur it on to aim for another, to finish on a high.
Pune Warriors have not been able to capitulate on a talented side that started with lot of promise under their head coach Allan Donald. The former South African star pacers’ presence has not been able to inspire PWI, which has lost all its previous nine matches. The team has not been able to fire up its batting despite the presence of big names like Yuvraj Singh, captain Aaron Finch, Robin Uthappa and Angelo Mathews, all of whom have been mostly erratic with their form. The bowling has also underperformed with the likes of Ashoke Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ajantha Mendis failing to deliver. The visitors will also look to finish positively.
Pune Warriors: Aaron Finch (captain), Angelo Mathews, Abhishek Nayar, Ajanta Mendis, Ali Murtaza, Anustup Mazumdar, Ashok Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dheeraj Jadhav, Eklavya Dwivedi, Harpreet Singh, Ishwar Pandey, Kane Richardson, Krishnakant Upadhyay, Luke Wright, Mahesh Rawat, Manish Pandey, Marlon Samuels, Mitchell Marsh, Mithun Manhas, Parveez Rasool, Rahul Sharma, R Gomez, Robin Uthappa, Shrikant Wagh, T Suman, Tamim Iqbal, Udit Birla, Wayne Parnell and Yuvraj Singh.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (C), Manvinder Bisla, Yusuf Pathan, Jacques Kallis, Rajat Bhatia, Laxmipathy Balaji, Sarabjit Ladda, Brad Haddin, Debabrata Das, Iqbal Abdulla, Brett Lee, Ryan McLaren, Eoin Morgan, Sunil Narine, Sumit Narwal, Suchitra Senanayake, Pradeep Sangwan, Shami Ahmed, Shakib Al Hasan, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Ryan ten Doeschate, Manoj Tiwary, James Pattinson.