Kagiso Rabada
Kagiso Rabada, who was acquired by Punjab Kings to boost their pace attack, is out of the quarantine period now. Image Credit: Sportzpics

Kolkata: It will be a challenging task for Kolkata Knight Riders to pick themselves up after a narrow defeat less than 48 hours back and face Punjab Kings for Game 8 of IPL 2022 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday.

Punjab, on the other hand, will be fresher after a four-day break since their win in their highscoring opener against Royal Challengers Bangalore and will want to keep up the momentum. The surface, along with the toss, will be of much consequence again as the seamers had been having a rocking time in the powerplays in the first week of the tournament so far.

A heartening news for Mayank Agarwal’s Punjab is that Kagiso Rabada, their South African pace warhead, is now available after the mandatory quarantine and he will be raring to go against a KKR top order who looked out of sorts against RCB on Wednesday. Rabada may come in place of young Raj Bawa while the team’s brains trust will keep the overseas trio unchanged in Liam Livingstone, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Odean Smith.

Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan wicketkeeper-batter, settled down quickly in the first game with a 22-ball 43 where he took down compatriot Wanindu Hasaranga, who had taken a wicket first ball. Another debutant, Odean Smith, closed the game down with an unbeaten eight-ball 25.

The Knights, whose bowlers kept them in the hunt during their defeat on Wednesday, need to be more disciplined in their shot selection. There is a possibility of Mohammed Nabi, the experienced Afghanistan allrounder, coming in place of specialist wicketkeeper Sheldon Jackson to beef up their batting as Sam Billings can double up as the gloveman on Friday.

This will, however, lead to a conundrum about which four overseas professionals to be used for Shreyas Iyer as the quartet of Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Sam Billings and Tim Southee had delivered the goods for them in the second game. It will still be sometime before Aaron Finch and Pat Cummins, the two Australian captains in either formats, will join the KKR camp after the white ball series in Pakistan.

Catch the match

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Punjab Kings

Venue: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

Start: 6 pm UAE