Homecoming for IPL and Dhoni
Friday, May 2, 2014
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)
The Big Picture
Losing a match on the boundary count after the scores are tied even in the Super Over can be immensely disappointing. Especially when you needed 16 going into the last two overs of your chase with six wickets in hand. Five days before going down in this manner to Rajasthan Royals, Kolkata Knight Riders were riding the opposite extreme against Royal Challengers Bangalore, who needed 29 off 26 with eight wickets remaining but were stopped short by two runs. As their coach Trevor Bayliss put it, Knight Riders have seen the "highs and lows" of the T20 format in these two games.
The UAE was almost exclusively low for Gautam Gambhir, but he broke his horror run of 0, 0, 0 & 1 by making 45 against Royals. While he did consume 44 deliveries, his knock has to be a big positive for Knight Riders just as the IPL shifts back to India. Gambhir and his side have had just two days to recover from that Super Over, and also shift base from the UAE to Ranchi.
Knight Riders will not have fond memories of Ranchi. The last time they played here, Yusuf Pathan was given out for obstructing the field against Pune Warriors in a close defeat that effectively ended the 2012 defending champions' chances in their 2013 campaign.
Their opponents, Chennai Super Kings, are in familiar territory close to the top of the table with four wins from five games. Only Glenn Maxwell has been able to down them so far. This is the first time they will be playing an IPL match in their captain's hometown. Ranchi has already voted in the ongoing federal election; it has to be seen what the turnout is with the local favourite on show.
Players to watch
After the Royals match, Bayliss said that Suryakumar Yadav is one of the better finishers he had seen. Yadav's 110 runs in the tournament have come at a strike-rate of 177.41. While his sweeps and reverse-sweeps against quick bowlers have deservingly caught attention, it was Yadav who holed out needlessly to kickstart the late collapse against Royals after having scored 31 off 18 till then. He will have to take Knight Riders home in a few chases to develop as a finisher.
Super Kings have relied a lot on finishing strong. Their line-up has become even more potent now with the presence of Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith at the top of the order. The pair averages 64.60 in five innings at a run-rate of 8.38 an over, with one century stand and two fifty partnerships.
Stats and trivia
- Chennai Super Kings' first-wicket aggregate of 323 runs this season is almost double that of next-best Delhi Daredevils
- Kolkata Knight Riders have conceded 7.31 runs an over in the final four four overs of an innings, the lowest this season
- Yusuf Pathan's 72 in Ranchi against Pune Warriors remains his only half-century for Knight Riders in 54 innings
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo