Abu Dhabi: Hit hard by the woeful form of its captain Gautam Gambhir, Kolkata Knight Riders would look for a turnaround in their fortunes when they take on Rajasthan Royals in an Indian Premier League match here tomorrow.
Kolkata is struggling in their batting department with Gambhir having been dismissed for a duck thrice in the four matches he has led the team so far. He scored just one in Kolkata's last match against leaders Kings XI Punjab, which his side lost by 23 runs.
KKR team players. PTI photo/ BCCI
The 2012 edition champions have one of the strongest batting line-ups among the eight IPL teams but none of their batsmen, except Jacques Kallis and Manish Pandey, have been consistent so far. Their batting problem was compounded by the disappointing form of big hitter Yusuf Pathan, who has scored just 17 in the four outings till now.
After a bright start in the tournament with a victory over defending champions Mumbai Indians, Kolkata have been finding it difficult to click as a team. Had it not been the stunning catch by Chris Lynn to dismiss A B de Villiers, Kolkata would have lost their match against Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 24 in Sharjah. Kolkata though still have time to come back with a bang as it is early days in the tournament and despite their inconsistent form, they are still in the third place in the league table with two wins from four matches.
With the likes of mystery spinner Sunil Narine, highest wicket-taker so far this season with nine scalps to his credit, in fine touch and the bowling department comparatively doing well, Kolkata would be hoping to end the UAE leg of their campaign on a winning note tomorrow. Just like Kolkata, Rajasthan also began their campaign with a victory but suffered two consecutive losses before winning their last match against Bangalore. They also have same points with Kolkata on four.
Just like Kolkata, the Jaipur-based side have also been facing problems at the top with openers Abhishek Nayar and Ajinkya Rahane failing to give a strong start in the four matches they have played so far. The win against Bangalore in their last match must have boosted the confidence of Rajasthan, more so with their captain Shane Watson's return to batting form and picking up a wicket in that match.
Rajasthan's bowling department, which does not have any big name, has been doing a fine job. Except against the rampaging Kings XI Punjab, the Rajasthan bowlers have restricted their opponents to modest totals and it will be interesting to see when they come up against the likes of Kallis and Gambhir tomorrow. Pacer Rajat Bhatia and off-spinner Kane Richardson have been consistent while leg-spinner Pravin Tambe scalped four in Rajasthan's thrashing of Bangalore in their last match.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (capt.), Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Sunil Narine, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan, Robin Uthappa, Vinay Kumar, Manvinder Bisla, Piyush Chawla, Pat Cummins, Debabrata Das, Kuldeep Yadav, Chris Lynn, Sayan Mondal, Veer Pratap Singh, Andre Russell, Ryan ten Doeschate, Suryakumar Yadav, Umesh Yadav.
Rajasthan Royals: Shane Watson (capt.), Amit Mishra, Abhishek Nayar , Ajinkya Rahane, Kane Richardson, Sanju Samson, Steven Smith, Tim Southee, Pravin Tambe, Ankit Sharma, Ankush Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Stuart Binny, Unmukt Chand, Kevon Cooper, Ben Cutting, James Faulkner, Brad Hodge, Deepak Hooda, Iqbal Abdulla, Dhawal Kulkarni, Vikramjeet Malik, Karun Nair, Rahul Tewatia, Dishant Yagnik.
Match Starts: 8 pm IST.