Sunday, September 21, 2014
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)
Lahore Lions have already reached uncharted territory by becoming the first Pakistan team to make it to the main draw of the Champions League T20, but they open the second phase of their campaign against one of the tournament favourites, Kolkata Knight Riders.
Gautam Gambhir's side is already on the longest winning streak by an IPL team, having won 10 in a row, and have beaten another high-profile team, Chennai Super Kings, earlier this week. Much of that run was constructed by a strong bowling attack constricting the opposition to a small score, before Robin Uthappa and Co comfortably chased down the moderate targets. Uthappa missed the opening game, in which the top order crumbled, but Knight Riders coach Trevor Bayliss said the opener's knee is better and that he should return to action soon.
During their unbeaten run Knight Riders have been about as consistent as a Twenty20 team can get, but Lions are proving to be as unpredictable as their national team. Lions outplayed both their subcontinental opponents in the qualifying phase, but were woeful against Northern Knights, slumping to 37 for 7 at one stage. Which version will show up for Sunday night's quasi India-Pakistan clash?
They have also had a four-day break break since their previous game, but their captain Mohammad Hafeez said that won't affect their rhythm. "I think we needed (the break), in the qualifying we couldn't get any rest, we've been playing, practising everyday, and I think that was much needed for the team, they can have a breather."
Kolkata Knight Riders WWWWW (most recent first, completed matches only)
Lahore Lions WLWWW
Watch out for
In the opening game of the main phase of the tournament, Andre Russell
showed how dangerous he can be in Twenty20s, blasting five sixes as he conjured a win from a seemingly hopeless situation against Super Kings
. His performance earned him the praise of his captain, who wrote in his Hindustan Times
column: "he is still a bloody good cricketer. There is a method to his power-hitting. Just recall his use of the depth of the crease while hitting those sixes against Chennai Super Kings."
Lions' fielding has not been at a high level this tournament, with plenty of chances going down. The ground fielding needs improvement as well - 39-year-old Scott Styris had joked he hadn't expected to be running too many twos at his age, but got a three against Lions when neither the man at long-on or the one at deep midwicket made an attempt to stop a loft to cow corner.
Stats and trivia
- If they win against Knight Riders, Lions will become only the second T20 team with an overall win-loss ratio of 4 or higher (min 20 matches) after Sialkot Stallions
"Our top order has performed extremely well in the past, that's the reason we won the IPL, so there's no need to panic just yet."
Knight Riders coach Trevor Bayliss, on his team's top-order slump against Chennai Super Kings
"We do not have any overseas players in our side, 7-8 are getting this chance first time in their life to participate in this big moment, we are very happy the way they are handling the pressure."
Lions captain Mohammad Hafeez on reaching the Champions League's main draw
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo