KKR look to defeat bottom-placed KXIP in their first match at Eden in 3 weeks
Kolkata: Kolkata Knight Riders salvaged a safe homecoming with the escape to victory in Bangalore on Monday night. Out on the road for over three weeks because of elections in West Bengal, Gautam Gambhir and his men were well on their way to a third consecutive defeat when the power-hitting of Yusuf Pathan and Andre Russell turned things around in the final few overs against RCB.
As they brace themselves for a ‘home run’, which will see them play all but one of their remaining six league matches at the Eden Gardens, the Knights will probably want to view Monday’s close encounter as good omen. On a day several of their ‘reliable’ players failed, KKR were able to flaunt depth and resilience. Mettle was tested by fire and readied for the big battles ahead.
Today’s clash against bottom-ranked Kings XI Punjab would appear a walk in the park for KKR but for the Sunday show. Having lost all but one of their previous six matches, the Kings’ men humbled league leaders Gujarat Lions in their own den.
“It showed we’re probably better than what results say,” South African pacer Kyle Abbott said of the win over the table-toppers. “There are still seven games left, and a lot to play for.”
Amidst a propensity to attribute the 23-run win in Rajkot to the fickleness of the format, it may be lost on many that Kings XI Punjab are actually packed with players whose skills and approach lend themselves nicely to the demands of a T20 bash.
With Murali Vijay relieving David Miller from the cares of captaincy, the South African is already beginning to express himself. Glenn Maxwell, yet to come to the party, will always be an ominous presence. Axar Patel striking form suddenly lends the attack a more balanced feel.
KKR, hovering near the top of the league ladder, have their headaches. The persistence with Sunil Narine hasn’t paid off, the West Indian match-winner not quite himself after having to remodel his action. Umesh Yadav’s meltdown on Monday would have caught KKR unaware.
The batting too cries for consistency. KKR will want to believe all that and more will fall into place in the comfort of familiarity.