Knight Riders v Super Kings, IPL 2014, Kolkata May 19, 2014

Knight Riders wary of middle-order rust


Play 02:32
Prasad: KKR in form, but hard to pick a winner

Match facts

Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)

Big Picture

A run of four victories have lifted Kolkata Knight Riders to a decent position amid the mad scramble for the final playoff spot and similar success over Chennai Super Kings, who are almost assured of progress, would bolster their case immensely.

Chasing has become Knight Riders' strength since reworking their personnel and batting order. It might well be their preferred route forward in the wake of Super Kings' relentless batting line-up, tying them down at Eden Gardens with their assortment of spinners. There are indications that it might work: Suresh Raina stumbled to a half-century and his team-mates could not decipher a slow turner in Ranchi and lost "10 runs if not more" in the death according to MS Dhoni.

However, the Super Kings captain was unconcerned with the defeat. They have enough bowling resources to exploit spin-friendly pitches, and it was on show as they ran Royal Challengers Bangalore close on Sunday, and batting malfunctions are relatively rare. The openers' failure was a contributing factor and Brendon McCullum, briefly returning home for the birth of his child, will hope to fly out on a winning note.

Knight Riders' middle order fails in inspiring the same confidence as their Sunil Narine-led attack. Yusuf Pathan exploded in celebration after he fulfilled his role as a finisher against Sunrisers Hyderabad, hinting at the pressure he might have been under after another scratchy season. Though their bowlers have limited the oppositions to below 150 in three successive games, Knight Riders have needed their openers to do most of the work. Now is probably the best time for the middle order to shake off the rust that's gathered.

Form guide

Kolkata Knight Riders: WWWWL (completed games, most recent first)
Chennai Super Kings: LWWLW

Where they stand

Kolkata Knight Riders: Fourth place, with 12 points from 11 games
Chennai Super Kings: Second, with 16 points from 11 games

Previous encounter

The two sides squared off on the IPL's return to India and immediately spin took centrestage. Super Kings were in the midst of a 'who's the better opener' competition and McCullum took the honours in Ranchi. His half-century set up a target of 149 in 17 overs after accommodating for rain. However, Knight Riders' chase tanked against the accuracy of Ravindra Jadeja (4-12) and R Ashwin (1-21), who picked up three wickets in five balls inside the Powerplay to usher their side to a comfortable 34-run victory.

Watch out for

With pitches around the country wearing under the summer heat, Samuel Badree might expect to feature in the XI more regularly. He excels at limiting a batsman's scoring areas and exploiting the pressure created to make inroads, but only two wickets in three games indicates he would do well to have Plans B, C and D in place.

Shakib Al Hasan has the ability to clear most grounds and it has led him to attempt too many shots sometimes. A more sedate approach in the middle overs could foster more solidity lower down the order. Should he manage that, his value as an allrounder - his four overs strangle oppositions even in the Powerplay - will rise further.

Stats and trivia

  • Knight Riders's longest unbeaten streak is six wins in 2012

  • Chennai Super Kings are the only team to have three players - Mohit Sharma, Jadeja and Ashwin - in the top-ten wicket-takers list this season


"It is a great position to bat at since I get a chance to plan my innings and assess the situation better."
Kolkata Knight Riders allrounder Yusuf Pathan enjoyed his promotion to No.4 against Sunrisers

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on May 20, 2014, 14:31 GMT

    kar r favourite keeping in view their current form doesn't matters whatever combination of players they go with.

  • sumit on May 20, 2014, 14:20 GMT

    It is time KKR must give u19 India world cup china man spinner Kuldeep Yadav chance in place of chawla.

  • Dummy4 on May 20, 2014, 14:16 GMT

    KKR should keep the winning combination for the rest of the game .This team is like a peril team can beat any team .Perfect combination just need to keep the players in the right position where they used to play .Sakib should be in no 3 .KKR might gets something good from him as well as he known as a all rounder .Best of luck KKR .

  • Garry on May 20, 2014, 13:47 GMT

    If I were KKR I would bring in the big match players in these must win games so Kallis, Ryan T D, Narine and Morkle would be my overseas players.

  • Dummy4 on May 20, 2014, 10:34 GMT

    I strongly propsed kkr to send shakib for bat at no 3. All the best for kkr.

  • Arshad on May 20, 2014, 9:56 GMT

    gambir think it, when u pick uttppa as opener he perform, same as pattan. i know that will work just check their carrier, u simple find that but u still work will wrong plan, if u want to win against a champian, u should be at ur best position. i assure u, ur plan 1 will fail surely, go for plan B and C that will make u win. ur batting line should be as i say from match three gg uttappa sakib patan panday tendo das/SKY chawla narin morkel UY. uttapa sakib patan tendo will give able make a ave score 180 that is a wining one form the blowing line-up KKR have.

  • Cricket on May 20, 2014, 8:17 GMT

    @Robtyson As an Indian fan, shouldn't you support Kings XI, CSK, RR, RCB, MI, SRH since their teams depend on Indian bowling for the most part. India has an abundance of batsmen, it needs good bowlers and all the teams you listed have provided them. Sandeep, Akshar, Shivam, Mohit, Pandey, Bhuvi, Tambe, Aaron, Chahal, Bumrah. Besides, RR relies equally on Indians such as Nair and Rahane for their batting. RCB's late ressurgance has come thanks to Yuvraj. MI needs Rohit to fire to do well and Rayudu has been one of their best batsmen. Vohra, Saha and Sehwag have all done well for KXIP too. All these teams have assigned particular roles to their overseas players and the Indians have stepped up to do the rest (at least for KXIP, RR and CSK).

  • Dummy4 on May 20, 2014, 8:03 GMT

    even as a kkr supporter one has to admit that chennai are the perfect all-round t20 side so they are more likely than not to walk it this afternoon. but in an ipl trophy that has thrown up more exciting new players than for several years aren't csk a bit, well, dull and predictable? dhoni has built a hugely competent winning side, but for non-supporters they don't really stir the blood

  • Robert on May 20, 2014, 7:44 GMT

    As an Indian fan, Happy about KKR as they are the only team that relies on Indian batsmen on the top 4. Their batting is completely reliant on Indian batsmen unlike other teams like Kings XI,CSK, RR,RCB,MI,SRH. Hope they continue their good form and make it to play-offs.Go KKR!!!

  • Mahafuz on May 20, 2014, 7:37 GMT

    As long as KKR leave Jack Kalis out of the squad they will do good