Rising Pune Supergiant v Kolkata Knight Riders is the 30th game of the 2017 Indian Premier League to be played on Wednesday. Suneer Chowdhary is with you today for his analysis along with Shruti Chopra’s prediction too. Read on to for this insightful preview or you could listen to the podcast instead.
The Rising Pune Supergiant were four matches old in the tournament and their fortunes looked to be going in the same direction as they had in the 2016 edition – spiralling out of control very quickly and with no plausible end in sight of that dark, long tunnel.
A fighting win against a struggling Royal Challengers Bangalore helped them stall that losing momentum, before MS Dhoni displayed great courage and signs of that sparkle that had made him earn that sobriquet of the world’s best finisher in his heyday. Chasing 177 for a win, Pune looked to have lost their way when Ben Stokes fell with 56 runs still needed and with just 23 deliveries remaining but Dhoni smashed his way to a win in company of Manoj Tiwary who has incidentally shown good form down the order.
And then, as if to prove those two wins were no flashes in the pan, Pune stalled the winning momentum of the Mumbai Indians after being sent in to bat by a side that had been on a roll – Mumbai had gone into the with a six-match winning streak under their belt and Pune stopped them in their tracks through some gritty bowling towards the end of that chase.
What’s been good to see is the emergence of Ben Stokes as a genuine match-winner in these three matches. We all know that Stokes had been bought for a whopping sum during the auction but many a talented players had been flattened by the pressure of expectations and by the load of that multi-million dollar figure in the auction. Stokes certainly had a slow start to the tournament but in two of these three wins, he has played a big role with the ball and ended up winning man-of-the-match awards.
Stokes has bowled early in the innings and he has bowled in the death overs and scoring against him has been difficult in both those games.
They will be up against a team that is currently breathing fire…probably even literally speaking. Gautam Gambhir’s Kolkata Knight Riders are currently second on the points table to Mumbai Indians but under their aggro-filled skipper, and egged by a boisterous Eden Gardens crowd, they hurried the Royal Challengers Bangalore out of a contest that Virat Kohli’s team looked to have bossed in the first innings.
Kolkata looked to have ceded control of the game after falling to 131 all out in that game after having gotten off to a flier thanks to Sunil Narine stunning assault at the top of the order but a feisty Gambhir’s mid-match speech seemed to have done the trick for their bowler. Gambhir apparently warned that any player not giving his 100% would be playing his last game under his captaincy and from then on, they bowled and fielded like a team possessed.
The result? Bangalore were flattened to the IPL’s lowest ever total, 49 all out, and Kolkata jumped to the second place in the table.
Gambhir had good reason to be disappointed with what had transpired – in the previous game, they had batted well enough to pile up 187 but a below-par bowling effort saw them lose that match to the Gujarat Lions with 10 balls to spare – quite a surprising result given the strength of the Kolkata bowling. And then against Bangalore they were 65 for one in the 6th over and should have gotten close to 200 if not passed it but fell away to 131 all out.
Interestingly, with both teams playing in their eighth game, a win for Pune will put them level on points with Kolkata, tied at the second spot with 10, and if the Sunrisers Hyderabad, who are taking on the Royal Challengers Bangalore in a few hours from now also win their game, that will make it a three-way tie for the second position.
Kolkata Knight Riders are 2-0 on head to head against the Rising Pune Supergiant – will they make it 3-0? Here’s what Shruti has to say: “Pune should have a great start with the bat but they may not be able to maintain this and may fall short of what’s expected. On the other hand, Kolkata show consistency with the bat and ball, which is why it’s tarot advantage Kolkata Knight Riders.”