Kolkata set sights on top spot
Saturday, April 30, Kolkata
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Kolkata Knight Riders are the only team of the original eight to have not made the IPL semi-finals but seem to have assembled a squad capable of making it this time. The latest evidence of that came on Thursday against Delhi Daredevils. When their formidable batting stuttered, their bowlers stepped up to pull off a victory that brought their campaign back on track after two successive losses had brought back memories of dismal previous seasons. A win over Kings XI Punjab on Saturday could send them to the top of the table.
Punjab's bowlers have had a week's rest since the pasting they received at Feroz Shah Kotla and now face another tough test as they come up against one of the strongest batting units in the tournament. Adam Gilchrist's side were widely reckoned to be among the weakest before the start of the tournament but they have done surprisingly well so far, partly due to Paul Valthaty's heroics.
The reason Punjab aren't in the top half of the table is that they have only played five matches, while everyone else have played at least seven. "We have to deal with what we are presented with in the schedule," Gilchrist said. "We are very keen to play though it's a little odd to have a full week break and then have nine games in the next 21 days."
Form guide (most recent first)
Kolkata WLLWW (second in points table)
Punjab LWWWL (seventh in points table)
Kolkata are still searching for a reliable wicketkeeper-batsman to partner Jacques Kallis at the top of the order. Their pool of candidates was reduced when Brad Haddin was ruled out of the tournament with a broken finger. Shreevats Goswami made some runs against Delhi but is yet to cement his spot. Kolkata also need to decide whether to retain the misfiring Eoin Morgan.
Punjab have to sort out their bowling combination. They need to decide which Indian medium-pacer to pick along with Praveen Kumar. Shalabh Srivastava didn't impress in his previous match, which could open the door for either Love Ablish or Vikramjeet Malik.
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In the spotlight
Shaun Marsh can make a credible case for being the most consistent batsman in IPLs - he has an astonishing ten 50-plus scores in 19 innings. His 95 was the outstanding innings in the runfest against Delhi, giving them a fright even after they posted the biggest total of the season.
Kolkata brought back left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla for the game against Delhi, which proved a canny decision. With eight wickets, Abdulla is their joint top wicket-taker and his three strikes were instrumental in changing the course of the Kotla match on Thursday.
- Manoj Tiwary is averaging 97 after six innings this season
- Paul Valthaty needs one more six to equal Yuvraj Singh for most sixes in the season
"I think a lot of people get caught up in results. I don't come into this game getting petrified that Kolkata won the last game."
Adam Gilchrist is keeping calm ahead of a tough game against Kolkata
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo