The IPL is into its second week and we have already had some thrilling matches going down to the wire. On the other hand, some of the clashes have been pretty one-sided. Today, we are gearing up for another exciting match wherein the two-time champions, Kolkata Knight Riders will take on the current table-toppers, Kings XI Punjab at the Mecca of cricket. Eden Gardens will be hosting its first IPL match of the season as KKR takes on Kings XI Punjab.
The Eden Gardens has traditionally been a slow and turning wicket with plenty of help for the spinners. In fact, the KKR have won most of their matches in the past seasons due to its spinners especially Sunil Narine being almost unplayable. However, this is a thing of the past.
The Eden Gardens now has a re-laid surface which is expected to provide a lot of bounce and assistance to the pacers as had been seen during the Test match between India and New Zealand last year. We can expect the pacers from both squads to come to the party and win the match for their team.
KINGS XI PUNJAB – STRENGTHS
The Kings are coming off back to back wins against the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Rising Pune Supergiant at Indore. They won both the matches comfortably with Glenn Maxwell leading from the front. A huge advantage of such a good start is that their team morale would be high which would definitely affect their performance.
The batting looks settled with Hashim Amla and Manan Vohra giving them a good start. Middle order batsmen Glenn Maxwell, Wriddhiman Saha and David Miller have looked to be in good form. The pace unit also looks balanced with Sandeep Sharma leading the attack.
KINGS XI PUNJAB – CONCERNS
This team has done well so far but Virender Sehwag will need to address some of the concerns ahead of today’s encounter. The spin attack looks weak with Axar Patel being the only recognized spinner in the squad. Although the Eden track does not seem to be spin-friendly, a surprise pitch may ruin Punjab’s chances.
Axar Patel may prove to be expensive today. Also, Marcus Stoinis needs to show his mettle with the ball and also, the bat if he gets an opportunity. Another concern for the table-toppers will be that their pacers do not generate too much speed and depend more on swing except Varun Aaron. This may be detrimental on the Eden track.
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS – STRENGTHS
With a fully filled Eden Gardens backing them, the Knight Riders would hope to pull off this match. The crowd at this stadium can be intimidating for the opponents. Skipper Gambhir is in good form with his highest score being 76 not out against the Gujarat Lions. With the likely absence of Chris Lynn due to injury, Robin Uthappa is expected to open with Gambhir and the KKR fans would be hoping that this combination can form some formidable partnerships like in the past.
Manish Pandey provides stability to the team and can prove to be a vital cog in the line-up. Umesh Yadaav is expected to turn up for this match. Along with Trent Boult and Chris Woakes, Umesh can form a lethal pace attack on the bouncy pitch. Kuldeep Yadav, the chinaman, is expected to play a crucial role inspite of being a spinner due to the variations he possesses.
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS – CONCERNS
Chris Lynn had been fantastic for the Knights who won their first match of the season mainly due to the Lynn-sanity. However, he will have to sit out as he injured his shoulder during the previous game against Mumbai Indians. The Knights would find it challenging to replace a player of his caliber.
Shakib al Hasan is expected to make it to the XI today due to Lynn’s absence. He may also find it difficult to adapt to the new Eden track. For KKR to win today’s match, they need their middle order to fire including the likes of Yusuf Pathan and Surya Kumar Yadav.
KXIP – Manan Vohra, Hashim Amla, Wriddhiman Saha(wk), Glenn Maxwell(c), David Miller, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma, Varun Aaron, T. Natarajan
KKR – Gautam Gambhir(c), Robin Uthappa(wk), Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib al Hasan, Surya Kumar Yadav, Chris Woakes, Kuldeep Yadav, Sunil Narine, Umesh Yadaav, Trent Boult
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Played – 19, KKR won – 13, KXIP won – 6
At Eden Gardens: Played – 8, KKR won – 6, KXIP won – 2
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CONCLUSION AND MATCH PREDICTION
It seems like it is going to be a battle between the bowlers of KKR and the batsmen of KXIP tonight at Kolkata. The Knights have a formidable bowling attack especially for the Eden Gardens while the Kings have world class batsmen in their ranks. Both the teams are good chasers and would elect to field upon winning the toss. It is expected to be an extremely tight match going right down to the wire. As tough as it is, here’s our call on the match result as KKR takes on Kings XI Punjab.
TOSS – KXIP wins and opts to field.
MATCH – KXIP win by 5 wickets with 4 balls remaining.
TOSS – KKR wins and opts to field.
MATCH – KKR win by 6 wickets with 7 balls remaining