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Preview: M23 - KKR vs GL

First return fixture of the season; Lions visit Fortress Eden Gardens

Match Preview KKR vs GL

What

The fortunes of the two teams who clash in Match 23 of VIVO IPL 2017 are vastly different.The Kolkata Knight Riders and Gujarat Lions have played five matches so far, and the former have won as many games as the latter have lost – four matches. KKR’s only defeat was against Mumbai Indians, while the Lions’ only win was against Rising Pune Supergiant.

KKR are coming into this contest on the back of three wins – the most recent being against Delhi Daredevils on Monday evening. The Gujarat Lions meanwhile lost a high-scoring tie against RCB on Tuesday night.

There is consistency in KKR’s selection – most definitely when it comes to naming their batting line-up, while the team tweaks the composition of its bowling attack depending on what the deck has to offer.

Bottom of the table is not the place the Lions should find themselves in, given the riches they have in their batting line-up. The Lions are possibly learning that the adage ‘Bowlers win matches’ also holds good in T20s; their bowlers have conceded runs at the rate of 9.85 and that must be the one biggest area of concern for the Lions’ management. They need one bowler to produce a spell of 4-0-30-5 or concede under less than six runs an over. Will someone do what Andrew Tye did against Rising Pune Supergiant, which led to the team’s only win?

When

21 April 2017, 2000 Hrs IST

Where

Eden Gardens, Kolkata

The Protagonists

One of Gautam Gambhir or Robin Uthappa has been the top-scorer for Kolkata Knight Riders in 18 of their 35 wins since 2014 and that clearly shows the impact the duo have on the team’s results. Both batsmen have starred in wins this season too, and though both batsmen were dismissed cheaply in the win against DD recently, they continue to be the two most-important batsmen in the team. Manish Pandey has been in sublime form with the bat. The batsman from Karnataka is the team’s top run-getter; he has scored 221 runs, being dismissed only once in four innings.

Of all the batting riches in the Gujarat Lions line-up, much will be expected of Brendon McCullum – the second-highest run-getter in T20 cricket, and Suresh Raina – the second-highest run-getter in the IPL. One of them needs to not only carry on to make a big score, possible closer to a three-figure mark.

Match within the match

Brendon McCullum against Piyush Chawla promises to be an exciting contest in this match. No bowler has dismissed the Kiwi batsman more often in the IPL than Chawla. KKR use the leg-spinner as a wicket-taking option – and with facts revealing that the Lions have lost more wickets to spin compared to pace this season, one can expect that they will include him in the XI again.

Head to Head

When these teams met earlier this season, KKR romped to a 10-wicket victory – courtesy Gautam Gambhir and Chris Lynn’s record-breaking unbeaten 184-run opening partnership. Batting first, the Lions posted 183-4 riding on Suresh Raina’s unbeaten 68, which the visitors chased down quite comfortably in 14.5 overs.

Overall: Matches played – 3, Kolkata Knight Riders won – 1, Gujarat Lions won – 2

Trivia

Kolkata Knight Riders have the highest scoring rate of all teams this season – 9.59, while the Gujarat Lions have the poorest economy rate of all teams – 9.85.

In their five matches so far, KKR have only picked up two wickets in the powerplay overs. They have more than made up for the lack of teeth in the first six overs by striking repeatedly in the middle overs; they have taken a total of 18 wickets in the middle overs – which is the highest among all the teams.

17 of the 21 matches involving the Gujarat Lions have been won by the team chasing; the Lions have won 9 run chases, while their opponents have been victorious in 8 run-chases.

Dwayne Smith has taken more wickets against Kolkata Knight Riders than against any other opponent in the IPL; he has 7 wickets from 11 matches and his economy rate reads an acceptable 6.54.

Kolkata Knight Riders have used ten bowlers this season, and every bowler has contributed at least one wicket.

What Next

Both teams will be seen in action next on April 23. The Kolkata Knight Riders will play a second consecutive match at home when they take on Royal Challengers Bangalore (8pm IST). The Gujarat Lions meanwhile head back home and play host to Kings XI Punjab (4pm IST).