Big picture: Can KKR turn their season around?
After starting their season with two wins in three games, Kolkata Knight Riders’ IPL 2023 has nosedived as they return home on the back of three losses on the bounce. It doesn’t help then, that they next face Chennai Super Kings, who have had the wood over them in the past – they have won 17 of the 26 meetings
between them and have the edge – five to four – in games held at Eden Gardens, too.
KKR have an unsettled air about them this season, starting with their batting up top. They have fielded four different opening combinations in the six matches. Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who opened in the first five games, was dropped for the last outing, against Delhi Capitals
, with Jason Roy and Litton Das coming in – both playing their first game of the season. That did not work too well. Nitish Rana and Andre Russell have struggled for consistency, while Rinku Singh hasn’t done much apart from that innings against Gujarat Titans
. Venkatesh Iyer
has stood out with a 104, an 83 and a 34, but also has three low scores.
The other pain point for KKR is their pace bowling, which has failed to fire. Their fast bowlers have collectively managed just nine wickets in six games, going at an economy rate of 11.3. It hasn’t helped that Umesh Yadav
, the senior man in the pack, has picked just one wicket in six outings.
CSK have fewer concerns, though a turnaround of 48 hours could be one of them. Having played Sunrisers Hyderabad on Friday evening
, they travel to Kolkata, and with the mercury rising there, it might not be easy.
On the field, CSK seem to have most of their bases covered. Their openers, Ruturaj Gaikwad
and Devon Conway
, have hit their straps from the get-go in the powerplay, while Ajinkya Rahane
has been a revelation. CSK have scored runs at a rate of 9.9 in the first six overs so far in the tournament – the best for any team. While injuries to many of their quicks is a concern, Matheesha Pathirana
and Tushar Deshpande
stepping up has given them some relief.
Kolkata Knight Riders LLLWW (last five matches, most recent first)
Chennai Super Kings WWLWW
Team news: Stokes still on the sidelines
Stephen Fleming has confirmed that Ben Stokes
will continue to be on the bench for the next few days, but said his injury was “not major”. Stokes played the first two games of the season and has been on the sidelines since. “Stokes had another setback, so he is probably a few days or a week away at least,” Fleming said after their previo0us game. Sisanda Magala has been warming up with the team, but he too is unlikely to feature in the next game. Ditto for Deepak Chahar.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Shardul Thakur was benched for the last game, and he could come into the playing XI, replacing Kulwant Khejroliya or Umesh. Suyash Sharma and Venkatesh are likely to be Impact Players.
Probable XII: 1 Jason Roy, 2 Litton Das (wk), 3 Venkatesh Iyer, 4 Nitish Rana (capt), 5 Mandeep Singh, 6 Andre Russell, 7 Rinku Singh, 8 Sunil Narine, 9 Shardul Thakur, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Varun Chakravarthy, 12 Suyash Sharma
Chennai Super Kings: They named an unchanged XI for their previous outing against Sunrisers and are unlikely to make any changes for this game. Ambati Rayudu, who has been used as an Impact Player all through the tournament, should once again swap places with Akash Singh.
Probable XII: 1 Devon Conway, 2 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 3 Ajinkya Rahane, 4 Moeen Ali, 5 Shivam Dube 6 Ambati Rayudu 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 MS Dhoni (capt, wk), 9 Matheesha Pathirana, 10 Tushar Deshpande, 11 Maheesh Theekshana, 12 Akash Singh
Since IPL 2018, the captain winning the toss has opted to bowl first in each of the 20 games at Eden Gardens.
Scores of 200 have been hit in three of the four innings so far at Eden Gardens this season. Incidentally, the team batting first won both the games. The surface has played well for batters, but with the April sun baking down, there could be some help for the spinners. There are chances of a light shower on Sunday, which might bring down the temperature a touch.
“This IPL, if you notice, every team is coming hard at us in the powerplay because our spin has been doing exceptionally well. So, all the reason for them to target us in the powerplay because of the field restrictions.”
Bharat Arun on why the fast bowlers haven’t fired
“The travel is more exhausting than what people think. We are about to embark on a busy couple of weeks, so we are well aware of the challenges. It’s a massive challenge.”
Stephen Fleming on the quick turnaround time between games
News Source: https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/indian-premier-league-2023-1345038/kolkata-knight-riders-vs-chennai-super-kings-33rd-match-1359507/match-preview