Kanpur: Gujarat Lions will look to bounce back from their heaviest defeat this season as they take on Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) game here on Thursday.
Regular captain Suresh Raina will be back for the tie at the Green Park stadium to boost the team’s confidence after skipping the Royal Challengers Bangalore match to be alongside his pregnant wife who gave birth to a daughter recently. It was Raina’s first IPL match missed since 2008.
On the contrary, the Knight’s may have to go into this game without their star all rounder Andre Russell who suffered a hamstring pull in the last game. KKR have seven wins from 12 outings so far and if they grab all two points against Gujarat they will be almost sure of a play-off spot. The Lions also have as many wins as KKR, but they have a lesser net run-rate.
Both teams come into the encounter after being battered by the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). First it was the Lions who faced the wrath of the Virat Kohli led side suffering a humiliating 144-run defeat last Saturday.
Twin centuries from Kohli and AB de Villiers helped their side reach a mammoth 248/3 and then RCB bowled Gujarat out for a paltry 104. KKR were then handed a 9-wicket thrashing.
Gujarat know they have to pull up their socks in the next tie. Raina’s return can be a boon for the home side as he has been prolific over the last nine seasons of the league.
And if the likes of Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith and Aaron Finch fire, the rival bowlers will have a tough time. The last time these two sides had met at the Eden Gardens, the Lions had come out on top and it will be interesting to see what Gautam Gambhir will do to turn the tables this time around.
The home side might look to get in Dale Steyn and James Faulkner in the side to strengthen their bowling. The wily fast bowlers might prove to be handy against the in form KKR batsmen.
The Knights have suffered problems in their top order but they have been able to put healthy totals on the board frequently.
They will want middle order batsman Yusuf Pathan to fire if they are to score heavily. However, the void left by Russell may be difficult to fill.
Spinners have been the main weapon of the Knights this season but the Green Park strip may not offer much to the likes of Piyush Chawla and Sunil Narine.