Deccan chase precious points against Kolkata
Match factsMay 16, 2009
Start time 16.45 (14.45 GMT, 20.00 IST)
The equation for the Deccan Chargers to enter the semi-finals is simple on paper - they need to win two of their last three matches. Winning against third-placed Rajasthan Royals won't be an easy proposition but Deccan couldn't have asked for better opportunity to try and bump into the semi-finals than the Kolkata Knight Riders, whom they thrashed in their earlier meeting in 2009. Deccan's momentum was hindered by two tense and close losses in the last week, but they shouldn't be worrying too much ahead of their game against the poorest side in the tournament.
Deccan's self-assurance stems from the showing of a host of players. Adam Gilchrist has been their leading run-scorer and a shrewd captain behind the stumps. RP Singh, with 16 wickets at 16.56, has bowled well with the new ball but has really surprised with his precise death bowling. Rohit Sharma hasn't clicked massively with the bat but he's been a real surprise with the ball, even taking a hat-trick. Pragyan Ojha's left-arm spin has been valuable. Dwayne Smith has turned in a few handy innings and Andrew Symonds' return has been only good news to a weak middle order. Even Venugopal Rao has contributed cameos and good catches in the field.
Conversely, Kolkata have been beaten 10 out of 11 times and have been run ragged by anything from poor form, abysmal fielding, shoddy man management, uninspiring leadership and reported rifts in the camp. You name it, and its gone wrong for them. Despite trying several combinations, Kolkata's woes have continued and their only incentive to win would be to try and take a few opponents down with them.
Form guide (completed matches, most recent first)
Deccan Chargers: LWLWL
Deccan have been rather reliant on Gilchrist at the top, but his flops in a few games was masked over to an extent by Symonds, Smith and Rao. Deccan are always best poised to win when Gilchrist gets going early. Rohit has disappointed with the bat, despite being their second-highest run-getter. Only a few points separate the teams on the table, so Deccan really need to get it together and seal their course in the final four.
Kolkata Knight Riders: LLLLL
Not much to write about here in terms of positives. The bowling has been a letdown; the batting has relied on Brad Hodge too often. Kolkata have been marred by controversies - the multiple-captaincy hocus-pocus, a fraught captain and even a fake blogger - and on the field they've rarely looked cohesive. A couple tough calls, such as that Super Over, but nobody is going to remember that when they look at the results list later.
Watch out forRohit Sharma: It really is time this kid stepped up with a strong innings. His 247 runs at 24.70 include just one half-century, and too often Rohit has been out playing indifferent shots, most notably in the last two games. He was Deccan's brightest star last year and is due to score; he can take confidence that he'll be up against Kolkata's rather threadbare attack. Like Ross Taylor, who swatted a barrage of gift-wrapped full tosses from Kolkata recently, Rohit is a keen puller. Kolkata, watch out.
TeamsIf at all, Deccan's change would be to drop D Ravi Teja, whose sluggish 27 from 34 in the last game hurt them and put pressure on Symonds and Smith. His replacements would likely be one of Arjun Yadav or Azhar Bilkakhia. The bowling will in all probability be untouched.
Deccan Chargers: (probable) 1 Adam Gilchrist (capt/wk), 2 T Suman, 3 Rohit Sharma, 4 Andrew Symonds, 5 Dwayne Smith, 6 Venugopal Rao, 7 D Ravi Teja/Azhar Bilakhia/Arjun Yadav, 8 Chaminda Vaas, 9 RP Singh, 10 Pragyan Ojha, 11 Shoaib Ahmed.
With nothing to gain in the tournament Kolkata may as well hand chances to those who have not featured yet. Brendon McCullum, their beleaguered captain, said he would step down if Kolkata didn't make the semi-finals. Still he showed up in the last game, hammering an unbeaten 84, taking a blinder, and sinking to his knees when the side vomited another chance to win. Will he at last bow out? Time will tell. The foreign allrounders Moises Henriques and Angelo Matthews have done nothing, so Kolkata could just give Mashrafe Mortaza, valued at $600,000, his first game.
Kolkata Knight Riders: (probable) 1 Brendon McCullum (capt), 2 Sourav Ganguly, 3 David Hussey, 4 Morne van Wyk, 5 Yashpal Singh, 6 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 7 Laxmi Ratan Shukla, 8 Ajit Agarkar, 9 Murali Kartik, 10 Mashrafe Mortaza, 11 Ishant Sharma.
Stats and trivia
Head-to-head recordKolkata trumped Deccan in both their face-offs in 2008. The first match was marred by a floodlight failure and a minefield of pitch at the Eden Gardens but Kolkata snuck home by five wickets in a thriller. In the second match Sourav Ganguly and David Hussey took Kolkata to 204 before their pace bowlers clinched a 23-run win. But in their 2009 opener Deccan thrashed Kolkata by eight wickets and 41 balls in hand at Newlands.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo