May 15, 2013
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
It's hard for the average fan to find much significance in this game, but Kolkata Knight Riders would disagree. Their chances of progressing to the playoffs are mighty slim at the moment, but it's still mathematically possible. And they have been keeping that flickering hope alive by winning their previous two matches, while others have done their bit for them, too - Mumbai Indians came from behind to beat Sunrisers Hyderabad, and Kings XI Punjab, who are also trying to fight their way out of a very tight corner, handed Royal Challengers Bangalore their first defeat of the year at the Chinnaswamy stadium. Knight Riders have to win their remaining two matches now, and do it with as big a margin as possible to boost their net run rate, and hope Sunrisers and Royal Challengers keep losing.
Knight Riders will be glad that one of their two upcoming must-wins is against Pune Warriors. Bottom-of-the-table Warriors have long since been out of this tournament, and have looked clueless more often than not. For them, this match is all about preventing their losing streak from extending into double digits: they have lost nine in a row since showing so much promise by beating Chennai Super Kings at Chepauk. Considering they have lost 33 out of 44 IPL matches (10 wins, 1 no result) overall, and 21 off the previous 23, any victory however insignificant would be most welcome.
Kolkata Knight Riders: WWLWL (most recent first)
Pune Warriors: LLLLL
In the spotlight
How will the pitch at the JSCA International Stadium play? On IPL debut, the Ranchi track proved to be quite hard for Knight Riders and Royal Challengers to handle, with the latter scratching to 115 for 9 before the 'hosts' got across the line with only four balls to spare. While Murali Kartik said it was difficult to judge with its slowness and two-paced nature, Jacques Kallis said the surface wasn't quite fit for T20 cricket. Even Royal Challengers franchise owner Siddharth Mallya was critical of the pitch, tweeting "The JSCA int' stadium in Ranchi is simply outstanding...Best in India after Chinnaswamy by far...Shame about the wicket tho..." But curator Shyam Bahadur Singh, while defending the pitch, has confirmed that the same strip will be used on Wednesday; the teams, and the fans in Ranchi, will be hoping it plays a bit better this time round.
Stats and trivia
Pune Warriors' win/loss ratio in the IPL is a woeful 0.30. That's far worse than even the two now-defunct franchises, Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Deccan Chargers, who had ratios of 0.75 and 0.63 respectively
After four matches, Warriors are yet to beat Knight Riders
Fourteen games into their season, none of the Knight Riders batsmen have an average of 30 or more (three matches minimum)
"Today we didn't make enough runs. Last match we went for too many runs in the death. It's a mixture of a lot of things."
Captain Aaron Finch tries to encapsulate what has gone wrong with Pune Warriors' season, following the loss to Mumbai Indians
"Be it any situation, we as a team enter the ground thinking about a victory. We do not play to participate."
While their chance of qualifying might be hanging by a thread, Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir says his team isn't around to just make up the numbers