Knight Riders v Royals, IPL 2014, Abu Dhabi April 28, 2014

Batting worries loom for Knight Riders

92

Match facts

April 29, 2014
Start time 1830 local (1430 GMT, 2000 IST)

Play 04:42
Agarkar: Gambhir should open again

Big Picture

After one run from four innings, the 'Wanted' posters will be all over the UAE, promising a hefty reward for Gautam Gambhir's batting form. The usually intense Gambhir has been managing a smile or two every time he has been questioned about his lack of runs, and it has helped him that Knight Riders have won two of their four matches this season despite some shaky batting.

Even if his barren spell extends, Gambhir is pretty much assured of his place in the side, since there are no reliable alternatives in the squad - Manvinder Bisla and Debabrata Das form the Indian batting back-up. Whether that will help him or not, what will certainly not help Gambhir is that he's up against Rajasthan Royals, a team that rolled over the superstar batting line-up of Royal Challengers Bangalore for 70 two days ago. Neither will the woeful form of Yusuf Pathan, who is unrecognisable from the heavy-hitting batsman whom IPL teams were clamouring for a few years ago.

Like Knight Riders, Royals also have two defeats and two wins. They have been quick to axe players who were crucial last season - James Faulkner and Brad Hodge. They turned to Tim Southee and Kane Richardson to provide the pace in the attack to complement the slower Indian bowlers, Pravin Tambe, Rajat Bhatia and Stuart Binny.

The ball has done plenty under lights in Abu Dhabi - scores so far have been 122 for 7, 135 for 6, 84 all out and 109 all out - and the toss could prove pivotal to deciding the fate of the match.

Watch out for

Royals has a history of picking non-flashy, uncapped players. Rajat Bhatia fits the description perfectly, and he's slotted into the XI perfectly, delivering his seemingly harmless medium-pacers that are yet again proving to be hard to put away. He may have missed the boat to India selection, but he is thriving in the high-pressure environment of the IPL.

The biggest weakness in the Knight Riders' side is the lack of runs from the Indian batsmen. Robin Uthappa, who was among the most expensive players in the previous IPL cycle, hasn't hit the heights of the initial IPL years, but has had one influential innings this season. Usually a top-order batsman, Knight Riders have given him the role of a finisher this campaign, which will require Uthappa to adapt his game from what it was in recent seasons.

Stats and trivia

  • Knight Riders narrowly lead the head-to-head against Royals: 6-5.
  • Morne Morkel (51) and Sunil Narine (50) have bowled the most dot balls this season
  • Watson needs 29 more runs to reach 2000 runs for Royals (includes runs scored in Champions League T20)

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • android_user on April 29, 2014, 14:29 GMT

    Dropping Pathan not a great idea.after all he is an impact player

  • Ha8rick on April 29, 2014, 14:22 GMT

    FINALLY Yousuf Pathan has been dropped!! There is Light at the end of the tunnel for KKR. Probably is a good decision bringing Shakib instead of Lynn. KKR has a problem with playing their 4th foreign player. Kallis & Narine will play all the games unless injured. If they had a Good Domestic fast bowler, they could have afforded to drop Morkel and keep Lynn. If Gambhir doesn't score 20+ he should drop himself from the next game.

  • Ramamoorthy_Nagooran on April 29, 2014, 14:18 GMT

    Fact is fact! The payoff teams to be chosen from their final games in UAE. The virtual quarter final games are getting over. Delhi Vs Mumbai - Delhi advanced. Chennai vs Hydrabad - Chennai advanced. Punjab vs Bangalore - Punjab advanced. Today Rajasthan vs Kolkata - The winner will be advanced. Tomorrow Mumbai vs Hydrabad - Dead rubber, both already knocked out. Mark my words - this is what will happen.

  • alcazar on April 29, 2014, 14:01 GMT

    my playing xi for kolkata will be like this bisla, uthappa,ryan,suryakumar, russell,manish, gambhir, chawla, narine, vinay, morkel in that order for batting uthappa, ryan, russel andsuryakumar will form the core batting thats needed for t20. this will work probably in 8 out of 10 times

  • android_user on April 29, 2014, 13:51 GMT

    Why Shakib in side line. He is in form to bat.

  • wapuser on April 29, 2014, 13:40 GMT

    Shakib for lynn (sakib scores 30 off 22 balls and bowled 3 overs 29/0 with two miss field of fours in the last match) (Lynn scores 14 off 18 balls)

  • RapidCommentsPlz on April 29, 2014, 13:20 GMT

    @QAZI255 lolz you sure you are on the right page? Bangaldesh is yet to produce a single world class player!And you say Shakib is the best all rounder?On what basis?30 odd against teams like Ireland and netherlands anjd you guys arelike "he is the best".Go get atleast single good player

  • dummy4fb on April 29, 2014, 13:19 GMT

    plz kkr drop Pathan and bring Bisla as an opener and bring Tendo or Shakib in place of Morkel

  • dummy4fb on April 29, 2014, 13:15 GMT

    My Playing XI- Gauti, Bisla, Kallis, Manish, Lynn, RTD/(Shakib), Surya, chawla , Narine, Umesh, R vinay

  • dummy4fb on April 29, 2014, 13:09 GMT

    I'd give the captaincy to Kallis, Ghambir should take some rest and get his head straight. I'd go with Kallis, Bisla, Pandey, Al Hasan, Uthapa, Pathan, S Yadav, Chawla, Narine, Morkel, U Yadav. The reason I'd keep Pathan is because one of these days he's gonna burst into action, and once that day happens, he can be dropped.

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