Sans the services of big-hitting Australian batsman Chris Lynn, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will hope fit-again Umesh Yadav can deliver when they take on high-flying Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League (IPL) engagement at the Eden Gardens here on Thursday.
Lynn, who has set the pace as far as accumulating runs is concerned this IPL by staying on top of the batting charts (125 runs in two matches), is down with a shoulder injury which might see him not take any further part in the T20 league.
The KKR management has said its medical team would need a few days to establish Lynn’s availability for the rest of the tournament.
The Queenslander fell awkwardly while trying to take a Jos Buttler catch against Mumbai Indians in his side’s last outing.
The latest injury was the third time Lynn had done the same shoulder in the last two years.
Since he was asked to join captain Gautam Gambhir in opening the batting, the 27-year-old struck a 41-ball 93 to help KKR win by 10 wickets against Gujarat Lions in Rajkot. In the side’s next game, Lynn looked menacing for his 24-ball 32.
Against Kings XI, who will come into the game on the back of two victories, it goes without saying that Lynn will be missed.
The good news for the home team is the availability of in-form Umesh.
The India pacer missed the first two KKR matches due to right hip and lower back soreness after a gruelling home season where he played 12 of the 13 Tests.
Umesh was the pick of the quick bowlers in the recently concluded India-Australia series, scalping 17 wickets in eight innings.
The 29-year-old Nagpur boy has been working up some serious pace lately and on a wicket that is expected to offer a lot of pace and bounce, Umesh’s addition might make the difference.
KKR threw away their previous encounter against Mumbai and at the forefront was poor death bowling.
Failing to defend 60 runs off 23 balls, the likes of pace spearhead Trent Boult and young Ankit Rajpoot bled runs in the final three overs.
Rajpoot is likely to make way for Umesh in the side while seasoned Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan will replace Lynn in the first XI.
Coming to Punjab, last season’s wooden spooners in the league standings seem to have found their mojo early on this time.
Although chasing down modest totals in both their matches (164 against Rising Pune Supergiant and 149 against Royal Challengers Bangalore), the form of South African opener Hashim Amla — who scored a crafty 58 in their last game — captain Glenn Maxwell and David Miller are enough to worry their rivals.
Though the slam-bang nature of T20 cricket makes drawing inference from history as risky as predicting the London weather, record shows Kings XI don’t have a good record either at the Eden or opposite KKR.
The visitors have just won twice here, with their last win coming way back on April 15, 2012. Overall, they have finished on top in just six games, with KKR winning the remaining 13.
KKR: Gautam Gambhir (captain), 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
Kings XI: Glenn Maxwell (captain), Manan Vohra, Axar Patel, David Miller, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Anureet Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Shaun Marsh, Wriddhiman Saha, Nikhil Naik, Mohit Sharma, Marcus Stoinis, KC Cariappa, Armaan Jaffer, Pardeep Sahu, Swapnil Singh, Hashim Amla, Varun Aaron, Eoin Morgan, Matt Henry, Rahul Tewatia, Martin Guptill, Darren Sammy, Rinku Singh, T Natarajan