You know the saying that the best way to get over a break-up is to find a new partner? Well, the same trick works for a cricket team when it comes to controversy. Kings XI Punjab's R Ashwin sparked a worldwide conversation with his dismissal of Jos Buttler on Monday night. The batsman looked in ridiculously good touch. He had to be taken out. The laws of the game gave Ashwin an option and, as captain, the decision to take it seems pretty black and white. Only, it is just a touch odd that cricket allows for a wicket to fall without any actual cricket taking place. No ball bowled. No shot played. Perhaps that's where all the outrage comes from.
Anyway, Ashwin and his men will now want to move on and add another away win to their record. Stuff like that galvanises teams and beating a former IPL champion could prove an important marker to Kings XI's title aspirations. Kolkata Knight Riders won't make it too easy for them, though, not at Eden Gardens and not with Sunil Narine fit again after a minor finger injury. Speaking of talisman bowlers, Andrew Tye, the highest wicket-taker last season, was at the Kings XI training on the eve of the match and will likely be in the XI on Wednesday. South Africa batsman David Miller too has linked up with the franchise.
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Chris Lynn, 2 Sunil Narine, 3 Robin Uthappa, 4 Nitish Rana, 5 Shubman Gill, 6 Dinesh Karthik (capt & wk), 7 Andre Russell, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Lockie Ferguson, 11 Prasidh Krishna
Kings XI Punjab: 1 Chris Gayle, 2 KL Rahul (wk), 3 Mayank Agarwal, 4 Sarfaraz Khan, 5 Nicholas Pooran (wk)/David Miller, 6 Mandeep Singh, 7 Andrew Tye/Sam Curran, 8 R Ashwin (capt), 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 11 Ankit Rajpoot
It seems a risky idea but T20 statistics do hint at a way to keep Andre Russell quiet. Bowl spin at him. In all T20s since 2015, he takes, on average, 5.2 balls to hit a boundary against them. He sends fast bowlers to the fence every 3.5 balls.
A similar tactic should work for Chris Gayle too. In fact, KKR have the perfect weapon: Narine. Under condition of at least 30 deliveries faced in a head-to-head battle, only two bowlers - Ashwin (4.8) and Lasith Malinga (4.4) - have a better economy rate against Gayle that Narine's 5.1 in the IPL.
Stats that matter
Eden Gardens is a chasing ground, especially at night. It has hosted 29 such T20Is and IPL matches since 2015 and the captain winning the toss decided to bowl a whopping 21 times (72%). Also, the team chasing has won 19 of those 29 matches (66%).
Narine will play his 100th IPL game on Wednesday and it will be against his favourite opponents. His best IPL figures - 5 for 16- came against them and so did his best IPL score - 75.
As clear proof that the universe totally balances everything out, KL Rahul loves playing against KKR too. He has 192 runs in 66 balls against them. Also, he loves playing against Narine: 70 runs in 32 balls and two dismissals.
Russell needs 61 runs in 82 balls to become the fastest to the 1000-run mark in the IPL. The man in the opposition camp holds that same record when it's presented in terms of innings - Chris Gayle (27)
The average first-innings score at this venue - for all T20Is and IPL matches since 2015 - is 165 and one that results in a win is 176.