Scorchers seek to halt Knight Riders juggernaut
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)
Against Chennai Super Kings, they were 51 for 5 in the ninth over, chasing 158. Against Lahore Lions, they lost wickets in each of their last three overs as they stumbled through a chase of 152. Both times Kolkata Knight Riders won, and have extended their winning streak to 11 matches.
While there's no doubting the quality they possess, Knight Riders don't look a particularly invincible side when you scan through the names in their eleven. Their middle order can be a little hit-and-miss, and their pace attack is prone to being expensive. No one has shown up these weaknesses in a significant way in a long time, however, and Perth Scorchers have a difficult task ahead of them if they aim to be the team that does so.
Scorchers weren't convincing in their last-gasp win over Dolphins, and needed Mitchell Marsh to hit sixes off the last two balls after they had managed to get into a losing position while losing only four wickets in a chase of 165. The lack of the retired Simon Katich and the injured Shaun Marsh was quite apparent. Their seam attack, which had looked potent while reducing Dolphins to 12 for 3, began looking rather samey when the ball stopped swinging. The extra pace of Nathan Coulter-Nile, who sat out the game with a calf injury, was sorely missed.
Coulter-Nile is likely to return against Knight Riders, which is a blessing for Scorchers, who do not possess the squad depth of some of the other teams in the competition, notably those from the IPL, and perhaps this was why Brad Hogg, the chinaman bowler, sought to cast them as the underdogs going into their match against Knight Riders. "We want to upset a few teams," he said.
Whether Knight Riders can be one of those teams remains to be seen, but it certainly can be done. They have shown cracks in their first two games, and a good team can break through them if they apply consist pressure.
Kolkata Knight Riders WWWWW (most recent first, completed matches only)
Perth Scorchers WWWLW
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In the eight overs he has bowled so far in the tournament, Sunil Narine has conceded a mere 18 runs at the ridiculous economy rate of 2.25, while also picking up four wickets. Narine is clearly enjoying the conditions in Hyderabad, and Perth Scorchers will have to find a way to lessen his influence on their innings to give themselves a chance of ending Knight Riders' winning streak.
According to Ian Healy, Sam Whiteman has the potential to be as good as Adam Gilchrist. The Western Australia keeper had an excellent Sheffield Shield season, finishing sixth on the overall run-getters list, and followed that with a breezy 174 for Australia A against the touring India A side. Whiteman made a 32-ball 45 against Cape Cobras without having to slog, and could hurt Knight Riders if he carries his form into this game.
Stats and trivia
- While Knight Riders' spinners have been impressive, all three of the quick bowlers they have used - Andre Russell, Pat Cummins and Umesh Yadav - have struggled, conceding more than 10 runs an over.
- Gautam Gambhir needs to hit two more fours to become only the fifth batsman - after Brad Hodge, Brendon McCullum, David Warner and Chris Gayle - to hit 500 fours in Twenty20 cricket.
- Since scoring 51 for Australia against West Indies in February 2013, Adam Voges has gone 31 innings without a T20 half-century. Since then, he has averaged 16.80, with a highest score of 48 and a strike rate of 103.80.
"We support each other. The foreign players have also become a part of the team. Those who could not come due to injuries like Morne Morkel ... there is a group formed on WhatsApp, they send messages like congratulations after the match.''
Kolkata Knight Riders bowling coach Wasim Akram is impressed by the team spirit in the camp
"We have injuries; we have players going to IPL teams. We could not get overseas players. Wish we got a pretty strong team; we are expecting to upset the competition."
Perth Scorchers left-arm spinner Brad Hogg
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo