Revenge will be on their minds when wooden spooners Gujarat Lions take on table toppers Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in a return Indian Premier League (IPL) fixture here at the Eden Gardens on Friday.
The Suresh-Raina led franchise — in both the outfit’s first games of the season — suffered a 10-wicket defeat in their own den on April 7.
KKR openers Gautam Gambhir (76 off 48) and Chris Lynn (93 off 41) made short work of Gujarat’s 183 where Raina top-scored with an unbeaten 68.
Since then, both sides have treaded different paths with the men in purple recording four victories and just one loss out of their five engagements so far, and Gujarat facing four reversals and just one win to show for.
Against Rising Pune Supergiant, Australian medium pacer Andrew Tye bagged a hattrick a returned best figures of (5/17) as Gujarat won by seven wickets with two overs to spare.
Ace India left-arm orthodox spinner Ravindra Jadeja played for the first time in that match but could not reap much dividends picking up just one wicket and going for 40 runs too.
Since then, the side formed in 2016 finished second best against Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore, their bowlers failing to live up to the ocassion on both counts.
Jadeja went wicketless, leaking 57 runs against RCB in his quota of four overs.
Chris Gayle was at his lethal best as he plundered a 38-ball 77 to help Virat Kohli’s team post a mammoth 213. Gujarat batsmen fought hard with Brendon McCullum smashing a 44-ball 72 but in the end fell 21 runs short.
Against defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad too, Gujarat succumbed to a tame defeat in the second game of the campaign.
The good part for Friday’s visitors is McCullum’s form with the willow. The dashing Kiwi batsman has scored scored 225 runs in five games at an average of 45.
Coming to the home team, the twice IPL champions showed exemplary character during their nail-biting four-wicket win against Delhi Daredevils with one ball remaining.
Being in the dumps while chasing 169 to win, Manish Pandey (69 not out) and Yusuf Pathan (59) stemmed the rot doggedly with a 110-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Since that four-wicket loss to Mumbai Indians in their second outing, the Gautam Gambhir-led franchise has not looked back, scripting a hattrick of wins. Besides Gambhir looking rock solid at the top of the order (196 runs in five matches), Pandey has been in outstanding form, amassing 221 from his four essays at a staggering average of 221.
Pathan getting among runs should also be a cause of joy for KKR. What remains to be seen is who opens the batting with Gambhir.
After Lynn got injured, Sunil Narine and Colin de Grandhomme have been given chances to win the Powerplay which has been the core of the thinktank’s plan.
In the bowling department, Narine has been the most economical among bowlers who have played five matches so far this season.
The teams met twice last season with Gujarat winning on both occasions.
KKR: Gautam Gambhir (c), Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Robin Uthappa, Shakib Al Hasan, Chris Lynn, Umesh Yadav, Yusuf Pathan, Sheldon Jackson, Ankit Singh Rajpoot, Trent Boult, Chris Woakes, Rishi Dhawan, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rovman Powell, R Sanjay Yadav, Ishank Jaggi, Darren Bravo, Sayan Ghosh, Colin de Grandhomme
GL: Suresh Raina (c), Ravindra Jadeja, James Faulkner, Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Bravo, Aaron Finch, Dwayne Smith, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Dhawal Kulkarni, Praveen Kumar, Andrew Tye, Ishan Kishan (wk), Pradeep Sangwan, Shivil Kaushik, Shadab Jakati, Jaydev Shah. Jason Roy, Basil Thampi, Manpreet Gony, Shubham Agarwal, Tejas Singh Baroka, Chirag Suri, Pratham Singh, Shelley Shaurya.