Kolkata Knight Riders will take on Kings XI Punjab in match 32 of the Indian Premier League at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Kolkata as they have played most of their matches away from home in recent times, but with reasonable success. More significantly, both teams go into the match having won their previous contests. While Kolkata Knight Riders, batsmen slammed the Royal Challengers Bangalore bowlers all over the place in their previous contest, Kings XI Punjab shocked table-toppers Gujarat Lions courtesy an impressive bowling effort.
Kolkata should be extremely pleased with the chasing effort against Bangalore, especially because they got there without contributions from Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir and even Manish Pandey for that matter. At one stage, Kolkata were in all kinds of trouble chasing an imposing target. But, Yusuf Pathan and Andre Russell completely turned the game around in Kolkata's favour. It was the kind of effort that would give the duo as well as the team plenty of confidence.
In the bowling department, Morne Morkel once again brought out all his experience into play. Along with him, Piyush Chawla also bowled well while Russell chipped in nicely with the ball too. The big problem for Kolkata in the bowling was the failure of Sunil Narine. Not only did he fail to make any kind of impression on the Bangalore batting, but was easily taken for runs as well. The most disappointing bowling effort however came from Umesh Yadav. The now-experienced fast bowler sprayed the ball all over the place, and allowed the batsmen to get after him.
Without an iota of doubt, Kings XI Punjab have been the worst team in the tournament so far. At the same time, they are among the few teams to have defeated table-toppers Gujarat Lions. They did that in the previous match when has restricted the strong Lions batting after themselves putting up a middling score. With the kind of attack at their disposal, and their confidence, Punjab were looking for something special from one of their players in their endeavour to overcome the Lions. That something came in the unlikely form of Axar Patel, who picked up the season's first hat-trick to drag Lions down from a high.
It may be too early to say whether the decision to replace David Miller with Murali Vijay as captain is a smart one, but the early indications are encouraging. Vijay looked in good form with the bat, and will look to lead from the front. Now that Miller has been relieved of the responsibility of captaincy, Punjab will hope for him to come good with the bat. Also, it is about time that Glenn Maxwell gets his act right with the bat. The injury to Shaun Marsh is definitely a big blow for Punjab, and team will hope for a suitable replacement. Above all though, they will want to continue their winning momentum.
--By A Cricket Analyst