Cuttack awaits cyclone Maxwell
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
Odisha may be one of the worst-hit states in India when it comes to tropical cyclones, but there is one storm they wouldn't mind hosting again and again. By some strange IPL scheduling, they have landed two Kings XI Punjab home games despite being almost 1900 km away from Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab. And they won't be complaining after what happened few days back when Glenn Maxwell made a mockery of the bigger boundaries to lead the team to 231, the highest total this year. A similar mouth-watering prospect awaits the Cuttack crowd, now surely behind the Kings XI team just as the rest of the country, as Maxwell and Co prepare to take on Kolkata Knight Riders' Narine and Co.
Although they are faced with a daunting task, Knight Riders can take solace in a few facts. Firstly, their bowling has been the only one which has tasted success against Kings XI batting this year. Secondly, they have a settled top order that has, for now, mitigated some of their batting problems. Both Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa have been among runs in the team's last two outings and now the team just needs their middle order to wake up. Thirdly, a loss to Kings XI may not hurt their chances much - everyone's losing to them - but a win could be a huge bonus. Lastly, it's a chance to get used to the conditions in Cuttack as their next match, against Mumbai Indians, has been rescheduled to the venue.
Kings XI Punjab WWLWW
Kolkata Knight Riders WLLLL
Where they stand
Kings XI: First, with seven wins in eight games
Knight Riders: Fifth, with three wins in eight games
Players to watch
Virender Sehwag's year in domestic cricket hasn't been too different from Yuvraj Singh's - both have been reduced to a shadow of what they once were. However, Sehwag is still managing to make a difference to Kings XI. He is third behind Maxwell and David Miller in the list of top run-scorers for the team despite a highest of 37. In six games out of eight, he has set the stage up for an onslaught, without appearing overtly-aggressive or mindlessly cowed. A Sehwag sticking to his supporting role seamlessly has worked wonders for Kings XI.
The Knight Riders openers were critical in them reaching 160 in their last two matches, a welcome change from their inconsistent run this season. Quietly, Uthappa has crept up the batting charts - he is the top run-getter in the tournament among the Indian batsmen. Gambhir, after a horror start, is also back in form with two consecutive fifties. The two will need to fire again if Knight Riders are to challenge the intimidating Kings XI batting.
There has been only one blot in Kings XI batting's otherwise almost faultless run this season. Maxwell was bowled for 15 off 12, Miller could only manage 14 and Sehwag was the top-scorer in a total of 132 for 9 with just 37 when they met Knight Riders earlier in Abu Dhabi. They tripped up against the spin duo of Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla, who shared three wickets apiece. But their seamers dished out an even rougher treatment to Knight Riders' batsmen, trampling them for 109 all out.
Stats and trivia
- Kolkata Knight Riders are the most economical team when it comes to the last five overs. They give away 8.30 runs per over at the death
- Virender Sehwag has hit as many fours as David Miller - 23. But when it comes to sixes, Miller has 11 more than Sehwag's five.
- With 11, Gautam Gambhir has most run-out dismissals among IPL batsmen
"The next few matches are crucial for us, especially now that we are back in Indian conditions, and we are confident that the two potent spinners will get us back into the reckoning by giving us the results we are looking for."
Gautam Gambhir on Shakib Al Hasan and Sunil Narine
"Hats off to our coach Sanjay Bangar. I was a bit tentative about playing as much spin here as it's a small ground and Sanjay saw the wicket and felt like it was going to turn and he was spot on. He [Shivam] backed him up; he bowled beautifully."
George Bailey after the win in Bangalore
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo