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The Kolkata Knight Riders have arrived in Raipur needing a win to bolster their case for a playoffs spot. Having lost their previous match to the Chennai Super Kings, KKR need to ensure they don’t slip into another losing streak, thereby hampering their chances of qualifying for the latter stages of IPL 2013.
During his pre-match press conference, skipper Gautam Gambhir highlighted the importance of a win for his team over the Delhi Daredevils. He also said that the last thing his side needed was to get into a must-win situation, as opposed to a two-game cushion they have at the moment.
Here are excerpts from Gambhir’s media interaction:
The importance of Wednesday’s game?
It is an important game. What I got to know after the Chennai match was that we need to win five out of our remaining seven games to qualify for the playoffs. And we don’t want to get into a situation where each game is a must-win game. Hopefully, we can try and start the journey Wednesday onwards and show what we are really capable of doing.
The importance of playing well, consistently?
Right now, we have a two-match cushion (to qualify for the playoffs). So, we will try our best to win games and play good cricket. I think, we have played good cricket in patches, and not consistently. So, we hope to play good cricket consistently.
Does KKR have plans for any specific DD players?
We don’t have any strategies to tackle individuals. We will purely try to do well as a team and against the whole opposition, and not just one person.
Does a captain’s job become harder when his team is not performing consistently?
Absolutely, when you are not playing consistent cricket, your job as a captain and leader becomes even more important.
When there have been a lot of ups and downs in the journey, it poses a challenge. You are in a situation where you not only have to lift the entire team, but also lift your own performance. When the team is doing well, you can concentrate on your own game and work on your performance. But the situation we are in, I need to think about my game and most importantly I need to think about the team and how to win a game of cricket.
Is Yusuf Pathan’s form a cause for frustration?
It’s not frustrating (that Pathan is not among the runs). KKR is not about Yusuf Pathan. It’s frustrating when the entire team is not doing well. There will be a situation when certain people will be in good rhythm while others are not. Those who are doing well, need to make it count and do enough for those who are not, because the situation can change very quickly.
At the moment, I am not even thinking about Pathan’s form. The only thing I am thinking about is where KKR are at the moment.
Are bowlers becoming smarter while bowling in the Twenty20 format?
A lot of people are saying that the bowlers have dominated. The bowlers have become much smarter and there is more variety and more innovative fields now.
They know that a batsman will come at them hard, so they have developed ways to tackle this. Now, it’s time for the batsmen to get smarter as well. But certainly, bowlers have become much smarter than they were a couple of seasons back.
Does DD hold an advantage given their recent win at Raipur?
I don’t know if there is such a benefit. Whoever plays better on a particular day wins. When a match starts, both teams begin from zero.
The two teams that featured in the opening game of Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013 – Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils - feature yet again in Match 44 of the season, though this time, the Daredevils will play hosts at their adopted venue in Raipur.
Delhi Daredevils (two wins from nine matches) have grazed the bottom of the table for the better part of the season. But they are not too far from the defending champions, who have won only three of their 9 matches and sit seventh in the standings. Both teams will be aware that they are not completely out of the race from qualifying for the Player-Offs, even though they face a mammoth and improbable task of having to win at least six of their remaining matches to stay in the race.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 8 p.m
Chhattisgarh International Cricket Stadium, Raipur
How a team comprising Virender Sehwag, David Warner and Mahela Jayawardene has managed to win only two matches so far is very difficult to explain. While Sehwag and Warner are the most destructive batsmen in modern day cricket, Jayawardene brings finesse along with the ability to play a variety of roles. In 24 outings between them, they have contributed just over half the runs scored by the team. They will know better than anyone that their team needs more than just small cameos from them.
KKR, a team that won the IPL last season is not too different from the side they have fielded for most part of this season. Skipper Gautam Gambhir – who scored three half-centuries in the first five innings this season, has gone off the boil since but still continues to be the main character in his team’s batting plans. Manvinder Bisla has scored consecutive half-centuries since returning to the team. KKR will hope he and Eoin Morgan can continue to score consistently.
With the ball, the sole consistent performer from both teams is KKR’s mystery spinner Sunil Narine; not only has the Trinidadian picked up wickets but he has also tied the runs down.
Not only have the Kolkata Knight Riders won their last three matches against the Delhi Daredevils, they also have a 6-4 win-loss record against them.
When the two teams met earlier this season, the Kolkata Knight Riders restricted the Delhi Daredevils to 128 and got past the finish line in the 19th over, winning by six wickets.
Delhi Daredevils skipper Mahela Jayawardene has lost the toss in each of his team’s last five matches.
Statistics suggest that winning the toss has not been a huge advantage in this IPL. In the first 41 matches played this season, the team winning the toss has gone on to win 20 matches, while the team that lost the toss won 21 matches.
After five consecutive home fixtures, the Delhi Daredevils travel to Hyderabad to take on Sunrisers Hyderabad on May 4. The Kolkata Knight Riders meanwhile head back home to take on the Rajasthan Royals on May 3.