Delhi Daredevils will have to play out of their skins to try and stop the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) juggernaut when the two sides lock horns in an Indian Premier League (IPL) game here at the Eden Gardens on Friday.
KKR have been in sublime form, winning two back-to-back games in convincing fashion.
While the twice IPL champions skittled Royal Challengers Bangalore for the tournament’s lowest score of 49 to win by a massive 82 runs here last Sunday, skipper Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa massacred Rising Pune Supergiant bowlers while chasing a 183-run target with ease.
“I thought we are a good chasing side and we are confident of chasing anything. Restricting the opposition to 180 was terrific and the credit needs to go to the bowlers,” said Gambhir after the Pune game as his side registered their sixth win out of eight games in this year’s IPL.
Gambhir has been in terrific form, scoring 305 runs in eight matches so far with an average of 50.83. The southpaw has the Orange Cap, given to highest scorer in the tournament, and is happy to be able to contribute in the team’s cause.
“It’s good to keep contributing, I keep saying Orange Cap does not matter if you don’t have points as a team. But it is good to score runs and when you are, score as much as you can,” added Gambhir, who has played 224 Twenty20 innings from 228 matches so far.
Nathan Coulter-Nile, who bowled a fiery first spell at the Eden against RCB, was rested for the Pune game and the Australian quick is expected to be drafted back in the side against Delhi on a track which helps fast bowlers.
Sunil Narine seems to have blended well in the opening slot and is doing his job of hitting big in the Powerplay to good effect.
Coming to the visitors, the Zaheer Khan led Delhi side have won just twice in their six matches.
In the last meeting between the two sides, KKR showed champions intent to wriggle out of a hole and script a four-wicket win at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi. Chasing a modest 168, the men in purple were 21/3 but Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan bailed their team out wonderfully.
Delhi will have to improve their batting if they are to harbour any chances of making it to the playoffs. Barring Sanju Samson and England’s Sam Billings, none of the batsmen have been consistent.
Samson’s brilliant century against Rising Pune Supergiant was the highlight and in the next game Billings’ gritty 50 helped Delhi win two matches on the trot. But since then, the Rahul Dravid-coached side have lost three in a row.
Kagiso Rabada, Pat Cummins, Chris Morris, Zaheer and Amit Mishra make a good reading as far as their bowling is concerned and they would look to back their strength against KKR.
In the head-to-head count, Delhi have lost 11 and won eight of the 19 meetings so far against KKR.
Kolkata Knight Riders: 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, AColin de Grandhomme
Delhi Daredevils: Zaheer Khan(captain), Angelo Mathews, Corey Anderson, Kagiso Rabada, Pat Cummins, Ankit Bawne, Aditya Tare, Murugan Ashwin, Navdeep Saini, Shashank Singh, Mohammed Shami, Shahbaz Nadeem, Jayant Yadav, Amit Mishra, Shreyas Iyer, Sam Billings, Sanju Samson, Chris Morris, Carlos Brathwaite, Karun Nair, Rishabh Pant, Chama Milind, Khaleel Ahmed, Pratyush Singh.