Already shown the exit door, IPL champion Kolkata Knight Riders would look for a face-saving win when it takes on table-topper Titans in its final Group ‘A’ match of the Champions League Twenty20 here on Sunday.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) side has looked out of sorts in the tournament so far and with rain robbing it of a chance to stay in the hunt during its previous outing against Perth Scorchers, Gautam Gambhir’s boys would be desperate to end the cash-rich championship on a positive note.
Titans, on the other hand, is on a roll, having won two consecutive matches, and would like to seal a place in the semifinals when it meets a deflated KKR side.
However, the African side needs to guard against complacency as a slide from here on may well restrict its entry into the top four.
With both its openers firing in unison, Titans have got off to fliers in its previous two outings and it remains to be seen how Jacques Rudolph and Henry Davids come up against the likes of Brett Lee and Jacques Kallis.
The only matter of worry for Martin van Jaarsveld-led side would be lack of time spent by its middle-order at the crease.
Most of the team’s batsmen have remained unscathed and Gambhir’s men might well be in with a chance if they manage to get a couple of early wickets.
The real test for the home side will come through mystery spinner Sunil Narine, who has clinched five wickets in the tournament so far, and Gambhir may well be tempted to use him upfront along side Lee.
The worry for KKR in the bowling department remains the lacklustre performance of Lakshmipathy Balaji. The Tamil Nadu bowler has been too costly giving away 116 runs from his 11 overs in the tournament so far.
Although he was economical in the washed-out game against Scorchers, Gambhir may well opt for all-rounder Shakib Al-Hasan in his place, given the batting woes of his team and South Africans’ dislike for spin.
The major area of worry for the KKR, however, remains its dismal show with the bat.
Its top-order, including Gambhir and the experienced batter Kallis, have not been able to adjust to the conditions and it would be a test of their character when they face the likes of Alfonso Thomas and Mbhalati, who have consistently bowled well in the tournament.
Titans’ bowlers have managed to keep their opponents under a tight leash in the previous encounters and they will certainly ask some difficult questions from the strong but faltering KKR batting line-up.
The teams (from):
KKR: Gautam Gambhir (capt.), Lakshmipathy Balaji, Rajat Bhatia, Manvinder Bisla (wk), Debabrata Das, Iqbal Abdulla, Jacques Kallis, Brett Lee, Brendon McCullum (wk), Sunil Narine, Yusuf Pathan, Pradeep Sangwan, Shakib Al Hasan, Ryan ten Doeschate, Manoj Tiwary.
Titans: Martin van Jaarsveld (capt.), Farhaan Behardien, Henry Davids, AB de Villiers (wk), Cornelius de Villiers, Paul Harris, Heino Kuhn (wk), Eden Links, Ethy Mbhalati, Mangaliso Mosehle, Rowan Richards, Jacques Rudolph, Alfonso Thomas, Roelof van der Merwe, David Wiese.