The soaring Kolkata Knight Riders will have a good chance to notch up their seventh win of the competition when they take on the laggards Delhi Daredevils in the 32nd game of the Indian Premier League on Friday as we kick-start another run of four days that will see two matches each day. Suneer Chowdhary is analysing and previewing this game and later will be joined by Shruti Chopra who gives her prediction for the game.
The Knight Riders were in strife after having lost to the Gujarat Lions and after having fallen away to 131 all out against the Royal Challengers Bangalore but since then they have bowled and batted well extremely well to notch up successive wins and cement their spot at the top of the table. First they bowled Bangalore out for 49, in a bowling performance for the ages and then out-batted the Rising Pune Supergiant despite conceding 182 on what looked to be a two-paced track at Pune.
Now they are back at the Eden Gardens where the ball had bounced and hooped around for their quicks in their previous game but that was under the evening nights. This match will be played at 4 pm which could make it more manageable to bat on.
Kolkata had decided to give Nathan Coulter-Nile a break last game and brought in Darren Bravo to bolster their batting. The bowling leaked a few runs but their batting were fortunate on two counts – the Pune fielding were afflicted by a malaise that has been a bother for all sides this IPL and the dew set in during the chase, making it tougher for the Pune bowlers. Both, the in-form Robin Uthappa and captain Gautam Gambhir were dropped on their way to their respective fifties, and together wrapped with the dewy conditions, provided the Knight Riders a gift of their lifetime.
Their opponents, Delhi Daredevils, Gautam Gambhir’s Ranji Trophy side, have been in strife and they are entering a crucial phase of the tournament. With four points from six matches, what the Daredevils need is a string of results going their way as they play five matches in a span of eight days, yep, that’s one game alternate day leading up to May 6. If they can somehow snaffle three wins in those five games, and move up to 10 points from 11 games, they would still have a chance to make the playoffs but anything less than that and the road ahead will get as rocky as it has for them over the past few seasons.
Delhi’s strategy, since Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy were ruled out of the competition, has been to rely on their younger batsmen and try and stack up their bowling with overseas players. It’s a tactic that hasn’t worked because of a variety of reasons but mostly because there has been nobody to give Sanju Samson any support. And even Samson hasn’t been blowing opposition bowling away – he has had one century and other scores of 9, 42, 39, 19 and 13. Modest but hardly overwhelming.
These batting woes were exemplified in their previous encounter when they looked to have done enough by restricting the Mumbai Indians to a paltry 142 but then fell to 24 for six to the pace of their opposition. Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris led their recovery but when you have lost six wickets in less than seven overs, it was never going to be enough and they went down by 14 runs.
Delhi have called in Marlon Samuels as a replacement for Quinton de Kock, a move they should have made quite early but it will now be interesting to see if he comes in to the playing XI almost immediately. Samuels has been playing a lot of T20 cricket in recent times – for the Peshawar Zalmi in the PSL, and then in the Kong Kong Blitz before taking on Pakistan for his West Indies. If does make it to the XI, one of Rabada, Morris or Pat Cummins might have to go out – have a sense that Morris will play and it will boil down one of the other two to take the fall.
As for the match prediction goes, here’s what Shruti had to say earlier today.
Suneer, it’s one of those games where I wouldn’t feel comfortable trusting the batting of either team – that’s a big statement considering we know how well Kolkata bat. But saying that, both teams should bowl very well, so for this game, it’s tarot advantage: the team batting first.