Defending champions Knight Riders look to turn tables over CSK as they play at home after 19 days
Kolkata: Indian Premier League face-off between Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings at the Eden Gardens on Thursday comes in the afterglow of their Chennai clash, and it will be up to the hosts to quickly brush aside the disappointments of Tuesday's two-run defeat and be ready for the challenge.
Kolkata Knight Riders' skipper Gautam Gambhir (left) with Chennai Super Kings' captain MS Dhoni in Chennai on Tuesday. Pic/PTI
It's crucial for the Knights, who will be playing a home match after 19 days, to beat the big teams if they are to squeeze into the top two and earn that favourable draw in the knockout stage. Halfway into their campaign, the defending champions trail CSK and Rajasthan Royals in that race. The home match with the Royals was washed out on Sunday. Gautam Gambhir & Co know they squandered and opportunity in Chennai on Tuesday.
While T20 batting is almost always about keeping pace with ridiculously steep run-rates with big shots and cheeky improvisations, there comes the occasion when all it takes is calm and the caresses. The Super Kings did script a spirited defence of their low total, but KKR know that they gave it away by deserting poise and purpose — all manifested in poor shot-selection and complicating a 135-run chase.
Over the years, KKR have often been let down by the inability to balance response with requirement, to fine-tune aggression as per the demands of situations. Ironically, it's something that their opponents are good at. It comes with cool heads amidst the heat of the battlefield.
In a clash between teams teeming with spinners, KKR look the poorer in the absence of Sunil Narine and Shakib Al Hasan. Even as Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib serves his country, Narine's tale is entering the theatre of the absurd.
Going by the Met Office forecast, it may be another match-affected by rain. A statewide call for bandh by opposition political parties has added to the air of uncertainty, but it's almost certain that the Eden will fill up.
While the hosts have some talented batsmen up the order, youngsters Manish Pandey and Suryakumar Yadav, the sheer weight of match-winners in the Super Kings line-up will keep them ahead in that department.
Containing those blasters will be a key, and KKR will take confidence from the fact that they did a good job on that front in Chennai a couple of days ago. CSK will be missing the services of injured Ravichandran Ashwin today. The home fans will be hoping the KKR batsmen quickly regain the psychological ground they conceded to their opponents on Tuesday.