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Gambhir returns to Eden but spotlight on Karthik

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Agarkar: I'd go with Curran over Johnson in KKR XI (3:53)

Ajit Agarkar and James Faulkner pick their playing XIs for KKR v Daredevils. Also, they explain why they think Daredevils edge ahead as favourites for this encounter (3:53)

Big Picture

They say they've parted on good terms, but neither Kolkata Knight Riders nor Gautam Gambhir will want to let off-field lovey-doveyness infect their on-field mission. The former captain is returning for a scalp.

Both of KKR's losses have come from tactical blunders - keeping Vinay Kumar for the last over of a tense chase against Chennai Super Kings and mismanaging of resources against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Dinesh Karthik is chained to a harsh spotlight and now he has to face the man against whom he will always be judged.

Gambhir could not expect better circumstances for his return to Eden Gardens. He isn't quite Sourav Ganguly stepping up in opposition colours and sparking widespread emotional turmoil but the atmosphere should still be interesting to behold.

In the news

  • Knight Riders' Kamlesh Nagarkoti has been ruled out of the season without playing a single match, with Karnataka seamer Prasidh Krishna replacing him

  • Chris Morris, it is understood, missed Daredevils' previous game with illness. It remains to be seen whether he will be fit on Monday

The likely XIs

Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Chris Lynn, 2 Sunil Narine, 3 Robin Uthappa, 4 Nitish Rana, 5 Dinesh Karthik (capt & wk), 6 Shubman Gill, 7 Andre Russell, 8 Shivam Mavi, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Piyush Chawla, 11 Kuldeep Yadav

Delhi Daredevils: 1 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 2 Jason Roy, 3 Rishabh Pant (wk), 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Shreyas Iyer, 6 Vijay Shankar, 7 Dan Christian/ Chris Morris, 8 Rahul Tewatia, 9 Shahbaz Nadeem, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Trent Boult

Stats that matter

  • Sunil Narine loves bowing at Daredevils. He has got 20 wickets from 11 innings - his second best against IPL teams, after his 26 against King XI - coupled with an economy rate of 6.3

  • Shahbaz Nadeem has an IPL economy rate of 7.16. That puts him at No. 9 among the 29 spinners who have delivered at least 500 balls in the tournament. For added context, a vast majority of those who have fared better tend to be considered A-list bowlers: Harbhajan Singh, R Ashwin, Narine, Muttiah Muralitharan, Shakib Al Hasan, Anil Kumble, Rahul Sharma, Johan Botha

  • A pick-me-up for the local fans ruing defeat at Eden: the four times Knight Riders reached the IPL knockouts, they had won only four or fewer matches at home. Of course, when they won the title in 2014, they only played four games in Kolkata. When they did the same in 2012, they won only three out of seven on their own turf

  • Since hitting three 80-plus scores in a row in 2014, Glenn Maxwell has been dismissed for 20 or less 34 times in 50 IPL innings

Strategy punt

Is there a cure for Lynnsanity? Possibly. He has been dismissed by a left-arm spinner four times in the seven IPL innings he has faced one. Furthermore, take a look at his head-to-head with Shakib Al Hasan in T20 cricket: four innings, three wickets and only 11 runs off 27 balls.

Fantasy pick

There are several bankable players to choose from here - Narine, Russell, Lynn - but won't most of the guys you're playing against be thinking along those very same lines? So why not a gamble? Why not Rishabh Pant, who at No. 3 will get enough time in the middle to collect points for you (with the added bonus of helping his team, of course). He should also offer a few add-ons for catches and/or stumpings. And he's not half bad against spin, specifically legspin: 115 runs off 78 balls while being dismissed only twice in 12 innings. Translation: average of 57, strike-rate 147.

Quotes

"As a young player trying to find your feet, you don't always get to bat where you're used to. It's the same with bowlers. Most teams have a number of experienced players, not many are playing 18-year-olds. I think [here] they're backed just by the fact that they're in the team."
Knight Riders batting coach Simon Katich on backing the squad's Under-19 talent