Marauding Knight Riders back to joust on home turf

Kolkata:After travelling for nearly three weeks to play six away matches in a row due to the West Bengal polls, Gautam Gambhir and his men returned home to the Eden Gardens on Tuesday.

Dangerman: Kings Xi Punjab will be well served if someone like Glenn Maxwell, plays to his potential. Photo: K.R. Deepak

Slotted second on the table with 10 points, two-time champion Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will have the rare luxury of playing five of its remaining six engagements in front of its passionate supporters. It would resume its home leg against bottom-placed Kings XI Punjab on Wednesday.

This season, KKR has enjoyed its balance and depth. Gambhir, who has been leading from the front with a string of fine performances, seems to be in complete command.

Apart from Gambhir, KKR has relied on Robin Uthappa and Suryakumar Yadav to put up the runs on the board. Yusuf Pathan rising to the challenge against Royal Challengers Bangalore and Manish Pandey, who missed a few matches due to chicken pox, getting fit should be a relief to the side.

Variety in bowling
KKR’s strong point is its variety in bowling. Umesh Yadav and Morne Morkel have served well in the pace department, while the experienced trio of Piyush Chawla, Brad Hogg and Sunil Narine have bolstered the spin section. Not to forget the utility all-rounder in Andre Russell, who has made some crucial contributions picking up nine wickets and scoring 133 runs so far. The host, which was a guest in Mohali two weeks ago, will enjoy the psychological advantage of taming KXIP in its backyard. Nevertheless, KXIP looks determined to improve its performance.

Murali Vijay, the team’s top run-getter, taking over as captain has augured well for the side, which defeated Gujarat Lions to arrest its series of losses.

KXIP might miss the services of an injured Shaun Marsh but would make up for it if batsmen like Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and Wriddhiman Saha realise their potential. Manan Vohra, who has produced some good knocks, should provide some hope.

KXIP bowlers exhibited their firepower against the Lions. Pacer Mohit Sharma, who has achieved three-wicket hauls thrice, and left-arm spinner Axar Patel, who captured four against the Lions, are in good touch, while new ball bowler Sandeep Sharma has been consistent. KXIP would wish its Australian pace ace Mitchell Johnson would make his presence felt.

The underdog will be keen to collect another win and may pose some serious challenges for KKR, which is playing its fourth match in seven days.