Kolkata: Their title defence in danger, a struggling Kolkata Knight Riders desperately needs a win against a resurgent Kings XI Punjab on Friday, in order to revive their fortunes in the Pepsi India Premier League 6. (JPN/Agencies)
After slumping to its fifth loss in as many as seven matches, including a hattrick of defeats after going down to Mumbai Indians yesterday, the Knight Riders have a difficult task ahead as they have slipped to the seventh spot with just four points.
From here on, the Kolkata outfit need to win at least seven more games from nine outing (five being away matches) to keep their hopes alive for a place in the play-offs.
The Knight Riders would fancy their chances against one of the weak sides in the competition, even as form favours the Punjab outfit which is brimming with confidence after back-to-back victories.
It's quite certain that the Knight Riders may miss out on the injured trio of Jacques Kallis (twisted right knee), Manoj Tiwary (split webbing) and Laxmi Ratan Shukla (ligament tear).
The injury problem maybe a blessing in disguise for the beleaguered Knight Riders as it may pave the way for explosive Kiwi batsman Brendon McCullum, while Ryan ten Doeschate, Manvinder Bisla and Mohammad Shami Ahmed will certainly be in the spotlight.
A win against Kings XI will also avenge their shock four-run loss at Mohali in the first leg as Gambhir's men would look to turn it around.
For the Knight Riders, their biggest worry has been the failure of its batting unit. Yusuf Pathan is proving to be a burden for the side because of his prolonged poor form both with the bat.
On the other hand, the Kings XI might be one of the weakest teams in the competition but they have got into a winning momentum especially after their comfortable five-wicket win over Delhi Daredevils in their last game.
Medium pacer Harmeet Singh, who returned with a match winning performance of 3/24, turned out to be the star for Kings XI at Feroze Shah Kotla the other night.
On the batting front, young Mandeep Singh has shown the appetite for runs upfront while David, Hussey and David Miller provide Kings XI the stability in the middle order.
The Kings XI need to take a cue from Mumbai Indians, who dropped struggling skipper Ricky Ponting and gave away the captaincy duties to Rohit Sharma. Their ploy worked to perfection as Mumbai looked a more balanced outfit last night.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (Capt), Yusuf Pathan, Jacques Kallis, Manoj Tiwary, Eoin Morgan, Debabrata Das, Rajat Bhatia, Iqbal Abdulla, Sachithra Senanayake, Sunil Narine, Laxmipathy Balaji, Sarabjit Ladda, Brad Haddin, Brendon McCullum, Ryan McLaren, Pradeep Sangwan, Mohammad Shami Ahmed, Manvinder Bisla.
Kings XI Punjab: Adam Gilchrist (Capt), Mandeep Singh, Luke Pomersbach, David Miller, Manan Vohra, David Hussey, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar, Harmeet Singh, Bhargav Bhatt, Parvinder Awana, Azhar Mahmood, Bipul Sharma, Siddharth Chitnis, Aniket Choudhary, Manpreet Gony, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Ryan Harris, Shaun Marsh, Dimitri Mascernhas, Nitin Saini, Sandeep Sharma, Rajagopal Sathish, Sunny Singh, Paul Valthaty.
Kolkata: Their title defence in danger, a struggling Kolkata Knight Riders desperately needs a win against a resurgent Kings XI Punjab on Friday, in order to revive their fortunes in the Pepsi India Premier League 6.