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The Preview by Kanishkaa Balachandran
April 14, 2012
Both Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab are on the upswing, with victories from their most recent games, but Knight Riders are in a better position, at No.4, having played, and won, an extra game. They are back at Eden Gardens, where they edged out Rajasthan Royals in a low-scorer. The spin trio of Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine and Yusuf Pathan exploited a slow, turning pitch, to keep Royals down to 131. With L Balaji and Jacques Kallis to back the spinners up, Knight Riders look a strong bowling unit.
Kings XI got the boost they needed in contrasting conditions in Mohali, which provided bounce and movement for the quicks. Kings XI will still be without the allrounder Azhar Mahmood, whose visa doesn't allow him to travel outside of Chandigarh and Delhi. That puts them at a disadvantage in their away games, considering he's a sought-after T20 freelancer. Kings XI have boosted their squad with two overseas fringe players - Ben Cutting (Australia) and Kyle Abbott (South Africa) - following injuries to Stuart Broad and R Sathish.
Players to watch
Shaun Marsh is yet to nail his position in Australia's squads, but for Kings XI, his selection is automatic. In a team lacking star value, Marsh's role at the top is crucial in terms of supporting the retired Adam Gilchrist. He sat out the match in Pune with an injury and Kings XI realised again how much they had missed him, when he hit an unbeaten 64 and guided the chase against Pune Warriors in the return match, .
Figures of 3 for 17, including a Man-of-the-Match performance, should help Shakib Al Hasan get an extended run in the line-up for Knight Riders. With Tamim Iqbal yet to get a game for Warriors, Bangladesh fans have Shakib to cheer for at the moment.
These teams played each other just once. It was a low-scorer at Eden Gardens, as Knight Riders easily chased 120.
Stats and trivia
"For me it is an honour to become the first Punjab bowler to get a five-wicket haul. More satisfying was that it helped the team to get the first win. Hopefully, it is a start of better things for both me and my team.
Dimitri Mascarenhas, after taking 5 for 25 against Warriors
"I love playing here. It's like my home ground as I've been playing here since U-15 days."
Shakib Al Hasan is happy to be back at Eden Gardens
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Kanishkaa Balachandran
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