Desperate Knight Riders running out of time
Match factsFriday, May 3, 2013
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Big pictureKolkata Knight Riders find themselves racing the clock as time runs out on their bid to make it to the playoffs. With just three wins in 10 matches, Knight Riders risk finishing in the bottom half of the table unless they win every game from here on, including the one on Friday against Rajasthan Royals.
Knight Riders have enough firepower in their line-up to create a final surge. But their biggest hurdle, against Royals and the other teams, has been inconsistency. They've had few days when the batting and bowling has clicked together and the failure of marquee players has dragged them down further. But Knight Riders will hope the side that takes the field on Friday can feed off the enthusiasm and support of the loyal home crowd.
Royals need this win as badly as Knight Riders. They've been poor travellers this season and as the competition for the playoff spots heads for a logjam, a win here could give them some breathing space and possibly the momentum to open up a gap of a few points.
Fortunately for Royals, they have players who have stepped up to the challenges thrown their way. The batting looks settled in spite of captain Rahul Dravid's changes in the batting order. Shane Watson's return to form and contributions from players like Dishant Yagnik, Brad Hodge, Sanju Samson and James Faulkner have helped them beat more fancied teams and they are more than capable of springing a surprise on Knight Riders.
Form guideKolkata Knight Riders LLWLL (most recent first)
Players to watchThere probably will not be a better time in this IPL for Gautam Gambhir to stand up and show his leadership skills. His technique is strong enough to handle Sreesanth, James Faulkner and Shane Watson at the top of the order but, more importantly, he needs to be an innovative leader on the field and marshal the out-of-form batting line-up
Since the game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, when he returned to bowling on the same day that he quit his vice-captaincy, Shane Watson has taken five wickets. More importantly, in those four matches, he has amassed 268 runs at a strike rate of 174.
Stats and trivia
- Royals don't have a great record on the road in the IPL. Of the 34 away matches they've played in the IPL, they have won 14 and lost 20.
- Shane Watson has an IPL strike rate of 147.62, which puts him fourth overall in the IPL
- Gautam Gambhir has the 19 fifty-plus scores in the IPL and is joint-highest with Rohit Sharma. Among the top five batsmen in the list, Gambhir is the only one without a hundred
Quotes"We would try to get back the best players in the top order. We also need to give confidence to the middle order so that the team can score 150 plus, a competitive total in the game." Kolkata Knight Riders' coach Trevor Bayliss mulls over a strategy to improve the side's batting
Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo