Big boys in bumper-to-bumper battle
Match factsSaturday, April 20, 2013
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
Both Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings started this year's IPL race from pole positions and at the end of the first sector, they are jostling for space in the crowded middle with sprightly challengers having taken the lead. In Eden Gardens, Knight Riders have a chance to come level with Super Kings but one bad manoeuver and they could fall behind.
It has been a stuttering start for both teams and their engines are yet to crank up to full steam. Gautam Gambhir and Eoin Morgan aside, Knight Riders' batting has flickered sporadically and their power hitters haven't had any impact with Yusuf Pathan continuing to be an enigma. Similarly for Super Kings, Suresh Raina and M Vijay have had an indifferent start and mainly Michael Hussey and MS Dhoni have shared the load of scoring.
It's the bowling where Knight Riders hold slight edge. Jacques Kallis, L Balaji, Rajat Bhatia are smart bowlers for this format who form a strong second-line of defence behind the dangerous Sunil Narine, who took this season's first hat-trick in Mohali, and his equally mysterious partner Sachithra Senanayake. However, a similar looking attack was taken apart by the Super Kings in the final of IPL 2012 before a brilliant riposte by Manvinder Bisla won the title for Knight Riders.
It's the first time the teams are meeting since that final. Knight Riders, till now, have won everything easily when in Kolkata and Super Kings have had two massive wins playing away. If there was a semblance of a pattern in those results, that, at least, is going to break for one team, weather permitting. The teams were greeted in the city by thunderstorms and rain is going to be in the air on Saturday too.
Knight Riders LWLLW
Super Kings WLWWL
Players to watch
Sachithra Senanayake was Knight Riders' prized pick at the auction. It set them back by $625,000, but in the two matches he has played, the investment has already started to make sense. Senanayake's trajectory is similar to Narine's and with a potent doosra, his presence in the XI makes it eight overs of puzzle solving for the opposition.
More of a conventional offpinner, R Ashwin is Super Kings' answer to Narine and Co, and although he doesn't come shrouded in mystery, he has his variations to trouble the best. Ashwin has been miserly this season and his battle with the spinners in the opposition will form an interesting backdrop to the match.
Stats and trivia
- Super Kings have beaten Knight Riders six times in ten matches. Three of those wins have come in Kolkata
- Sachithra Senanayake has picked up 50 wickets in 36 Twenty20 matches and has an economy rate of 6.05
- 26th March 2010 was the last time Yusuf Pathan scored a half-century in the IPL
"I can bowl close to four different kinds of balls in an over. I have a regular off-spinner, an arm ball, the carrom ball and one more lethal one that can either go in or go out."
Sachithra Senanayake reveals the contents of his mystery box
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo