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Defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders will clash with the Chennai Super Kings in Match 26 of the Pepsi IPL 2013. These two teams met in the summit clash last season where the Knight Riders prevailed in a high-scoring final.
The hosts come into this match at the back of a narrow four run defeat against Kings XI Punjab. Chasing a competitive 158, KKR were well and truly in control of the run-chase before the batting fell apart. KKR have won both their home fixtures this season and they will be keen to retain their 100% home record when they take the field in this clash.
CSK have won three of their five matches so far. Their most recent match – against the Delhi Daredevils was a clinical performance from the two-time champions; the batsmen set it up beautifully, the strategy employed by the captain worked to near perfection and all the bowlers chipped in to help the team to an emphatic 86-run victory.
Saturday, April 20, 2013, 4 p.m
Eden Gardens, Kolkata
No one individual has influenced KKR’s fortunes more than their skipper Gautam Gambhir. In a format where the openers play the most crucial role with the bat, big runs from Gambhir’s willow has invariably meant success for KKR. He is the team’s top run-getter this season and if he can continue to keep piling on the runs – and get support from the likes of Eoin Morgan and Jacques Kallis – KKR are sure to be a tough team to beat. KKR coach Trevor Bayliss told the media on match eve that there was a chance Brendon McCullum could get a look in for this game, and his inclusion will only mean a big boost to the team’s batting line-up. Add the two mystery bowlers - Sunil Narine and Sachithra Senanayake – and KKR have a very potent bowling attack too.
Chennai Super Kings seem to be gaining momentum slowly. The team sorely missed Michael Hussey in the match against the Pune Warriors India. The Australian not only brings his experience but also offers a lot of solidity to the CSK batting line-up. He proved his value immediately upon his return to the XI by scoring an unbeaten 65 which set up the match against the Daredevils. Suresh Raina has played cameos so far this season and he will be itching to make a big score, like the ones fans are so used to seeing from the southpaw in the IPL. Keep an eye on MS Dhoni too; the CSK skipper has been in stupendous hitting form and it would only be fair to expect more fireworks from him.
In ten meetings between the two teams, the Chennai Super Kings have won six matches. Even when playing at Kolkata, CSK have an upper hand over their hosts having won three of the four matches.
The last time these two teams met was in the final of IPL 2012 when KKR, powered by Manvinder Bisla and Jacques Kallis, chased down 191 with two balls to spare.
The Kolkata Knight Riders have been very efficient against the spinners this season; they’ve only lost four wickets (out of a total of 31 wickets) to spinners so far this season.
The Kolkata Knight Riders will play the second of their three back-to-back home fixtures against the Mumbai Indians on April 24. MS Dhoni’s team will head back home after this match to host the Rajasthan Royals on April 22.
There was a cloud cover over the Eden Gardens on Friday, just a day before the big clash between defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders and last year’s runners-up Chennai Super Kings. There was a possibility of some rain according to the locals here, but that did not dampen the hopes of the Knight Riders who were seen practicing hard at the nets.
The Knights are back at their den after a four run loss against Kings XI Punjab that left the side gutted. Coach Trevor Bayliss said, “I think the boys in the dressing room after the game were hurt. They realised that they had left one slip away. It was good to see the hurt on their faces because you could see it meant that much to them. They were embarrassed by the way they let that game slip. But, I don’t think there will be a problem in the effort they put in the game tomorrow.”
Their opponents, Chennai Super Kings though, are coming off a comprehensive victory against the Delhi Daredevils and there will be no doubts that the men in yellow will be upbeat even though they are playing KKR at home.
Bayliss felt, it could be a tight contest against CSK. “The games we played against CSK last year were all nail biting finishes and we look forward to a similar contest tomorrow as well.”
Spin has been the Knight Riders’ strength this competition as Sunil Narine has proved to be their most lethal weapon in the bowling attack. Add a Sachithra Senanayake to it and you can have the deadliest spin combination in the competition. When asked if there will be any change in the strategy against CSK who play spin well, Bayliss said “We just concentrate on what we do well. Our strength is spin bowling and we do not think of changing it too much according to the opposition. It is something that we have spoken about and we do have some options in terms of deciding the combinations we might play whether it is this game or for the future games.”
KKR have been highly dependent on their top four of the batting line up to get runs on the board, and batting has been an area of concern for them. The coach was of the view that it was time for the lower order to making meaningful contributions as well. “The batting has been a bit of a problem. In twenty over games sometimes, players do not get much of an opportunity to bat in the middle and it is tough to get in touch when you are not there for all that long. Last year we got a lot of runs at the top of the order and to be honest we need a lot of runs from the bottom three or four. They need to come up with those crucial fifteens, twenties and thirties in short space of time in the end which will get us to a good score. Once they start hitting the ball in the middle, am sure their form will come.”
Talking about form, there has been concerns over Yusuf Pathan’s form as well. Pathan has just scored 61 in the five games so far, but Bayliss was in full support for his match winner. “We are looking at Yusuf and trying to work with him to find the best way for him to score runs. We might use him in a different fashion in the next game or two. We know he is a match winner when he comes off and hopefully it is not long before he scores well for us. I have been watching him bat in the nets and I feel he is striking the ball a lot better than last year.”
Will there be a few changes in the next game? Will we see Brendon McCullum back in the squad? “I cannot say he will not play, but there might be a chance that he will play. It is a fifty-fifty chance. There is a possibility that there might be changes. We will get together tomorrow before the game and work out the combinations that we are looking for and then make changes if need be,” answered Bayliss.