Just a couple of days back, Kolkata Knight Riders lost a great opportunity to get the better of Chennai Super Kings at Chepauk. They put up a great bowling performance to restrict the hosts, and then were in an excellent position to march to victory. But, some inexplicable batting meant they somehow managed to lose the game by a slender margin. It was a match they should never have lost. For Chennai, it was another vindication of why they are rated so highly as a T20 outfit. As the teams meet again on Thursday, Kolkata have a chance to make amends. For Chennai, it will be another opportunity to build their lead at the top of the table.
Match: Kolkata Knight Riders vs Chennai Super Kings, 30th T20 at Kolkata
Time: 14:30 GMT | 8 PM IST
Toss: Kolkata Knight Riders, who chose to field first
Kolkata's batting was really poor in the last game, and they will need to show significant improvements in that aspect. Gautam Gambhir has been their star performer, and it was no coincidence that his failure mirrored that of the team against Chennai. Kolkata would ideally like him to be back among the runs. Robin Uthappa got back to form after a lean run, but he was guilty of not taking his team through. Since he hasn't scored a lot of runs in this edition, it is imperative that he plays big knocks. The likes of Yusuf Pathan, Manish Pandey and Ryan ten Doeschate will be under the scanner following their struggles at Chepauk.
In spite of missing Sunil Narine, who has been banned from bowling off spinners, Kolkata came up with a highly impressive bowling display against Chennai. Their bowling was the biggest plus point in the disappointing loss. The 44-year-old Brad Hogg, who came in for Narine, fit into the scheme of things seamlessly for Kolkata, with figures of 1 for 18. The leggie Piyush Chawla also continued his good run with the ball. The pace bowling department too has been impressive. Pat Cummins was potent in the last match while Umesh Yadav continues to make an impact. Even the otherwise expensive Andre Russell chipped in with a couple of scalps.
Chennai will go into the rematch high on confidence. They would go into the game at Eden Gardens knowing very well that they had no business winning the last game, but were handed the match on a platter. At the same time, Chennai must be proud of the way they bowled to pull off the unlikely victory. Ravichandran Ashwin may not be available for a few matches, but he was the man who turned the match against Kolkata. Dwayne Bravo too came up with a superb bowling spell. His batting hasn't been consistent, so Chennai should be pleased with the fact that he has delivered.
Chennai's batting has been their strength traditionally. And so, the poor effort against Kolkata in the last clash can be seen as a one-off. But, they would still be keen to get back among the runs at Eden Gardens. A rollicking start from Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith will be the perfect recipe, followed by runs from Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis, MS Dhoni and the rest. This is what Chennai have been doing very well throughout the campaign. With only one loss in the tournament so far, they would be riding high. Kolkata will have to play out of their skins to overpower them.
By A Cricket Analyst