Form teams battle for second spot
Friday, May 7, Kolkata
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders are on strong runs, and both teams will probably make the play-offs regardless of what happens on Saturday. However, with the new format allowing the top two teams two bites at the cherry in the play-offs, and with Mumbai Indians looking set to take one of those spots, this match is a chance for either side to take a step towards that crucial second spot.
If there is anything to separate the two teams, it is probably that Chennai have more dynamism in their batting. It could be a big factor given the match could be played on a brand new pitch at Eden Gardens, which is expected to produce more runs than previous tracks at the ground.
Gautam Gambhir's continued reluctance to open the batting means Kolkata have plenty of solidity but not much power at the top of the order. Yusuf Pathan has usually come in late in the innings and hasn't had a chance to get his eye in before launching, and the batting is not as deep as Chennai's. All this has meant that while Kolkata have put up decent totals consistently, they have never scored more than 171. If the pitch at Eden Gardens serves up a run-fest, that may not be good enough.
Form guide (most recent first)
Kolkata Knight Riders: LWWWL (second in points table)
Chennai Super Kings: WWWWL (third in points table)
In Jacques Kallis and Eoin Morgan, Kolkata have two openers who are striking at less than 125 in this IPL. It would be a bold move to drop either of them, but bringing in Ryan ten Doeschate or Shakib Al Hasan could help match the Chennai middle order, which contains Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Albie Morkel and S Badrinath, all of whom have strike-rates of more than 130. L Balaji is expected to be back for Kolkata after he was rested from the previous game. Chennai should go in unchanged, unless they decide to rest somebody.
Predict the playing XIs for this match. Play ESPNcricinfo Team selector.
In the spotlight
Brett Lee has bowled well without much reward in this tournament: he has three wickets in seven games and has gone at 7.48. Against Kochi Tuskers on Thursday, his last over was smashed for 22 runs. But his luck has to turn at some stage.
Lee's countryman Doug Bollinger has been impossible to get away in the end overs. His mix of full deliveries outside off stump and short-of-length deliveries has allowed him to maintain an economy-rate of 6.21, even though he bowls at times when the batsmen are looking for quick runs.
- While bowling in the last four overs, Bollinger has conceded just 62 runs off 60 deliveries during the tournament, and has picked up six wickets
- Jacques Kallis' strike-rate of 109.58 is the lowest among the ten leading run-getters in this IPL.
"In the last two games, the spinners have pulled us back into the contest after good starts by our opponents. They have been consistent and have tied the batsmen down. So it will be challenging if we lose Suraj Randiv in the latter stages of the tournament."
Michael Hussey is worried about Randiv departing to play for Sri Lanka in England at a crucial stage
"The ground holds some good memories. We came into the match 1-0 down and won it to level the series and become the No. 1 Test team in the world. Personally, I was not very successful, but it was part of a learning curve."
The last Test S Badrinath played was at Eden Gardens against South Africa