Kolkata target place in top two
Match factsSaturday, May 19, 2012
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
As the league phase enters its final weekend, the priorities are completely different for the two opponents meeting at the Sahara Stadium in Pune.
Kolkata Knight Riders are enjoying their best IPL season, and are looking for a victory that will grant them a chance of finishing at the head of the table, or at least secure them a place in the top two and guarantee them two shots at making the final. Pune Warriors, on the other hand, are striving to end one of the longest losing streaks in IPL history. Eight defeats in a row have crushed their chances of making the playoffs, and another reverse will leave them open to the possibility of finishing last, if Deccan Chargers win their final game.
One area of concern for Knight Riders is their batting, and its dependence on Gautam Gambhir, who has six half-centuries this season. Gambhir leads the way with 546 runs at 144.06, but the next three highest run-getters for the team - Jacques Kallis, Manoj Tiwary and Brednon McCullum - are all scoring at a strike-rate of 106 or lower. With Yusuf Pathan also out of form, can Knight Riders put up a big score in case their captain fails?
Pune Warriors: LLLLL (most recent first)
Kolkata Knight Riders: WLLWW
Players to watch
Jacques Kallis might not have hit top gear with the bat, but he has been invaluable with the ball this season for Knight Riders. He showed it again in the game against Mumbai Indians, dismissing the finishers from the West Indies, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Smith, off successive deliveries, to dent the chase. He had similarly got rid of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers off consecutive balls to derail Royal Challengers Bangalore at Eden Gardens.
This could well be Sourav Ganguly's final competitive match. The years have caught up with him, slowing his reflexes and the imperiousness of old has been missing from his batting. There were flashes of his abilities, especially in the game against Delhi Daredevils, and he will be hoping for a similarly inspirational showing to sign off the season.
Stats and trivia
- Warriors have only taken 65 wickets this season - the lowest of all teams, including Chargers, who had one game washed out
- Knight Riders have hit the lowest number of sixes (55) this season and the second-lowest number of fours (166)
Quotes"The one in Mumbai, where we defended 140. Mumbai had 10 internationals in their line-up. The outfield was fast, the wicket decent and the ground small... Yet, the boys did it."
Trevor Bayliss explains why the victory over Mumbai Indians was the most satisfactory one of Knight Riders' campaign so far
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.