Saturday, May 9, 2015
Start time 1600 local (1030 GMT)
O'Brien: Could be a walkover for Knight Riders
Last year, Kolkata Knight Riders needed to strain every sinew to beat Kings XI Punjab in a thriller of an IPL final. The teams have undergone only minor changes in personnel since then, but watching Kings XI play this season has been like watching a team of clones lacking the cricket genes of the originals.
They arrive at the Eden Gardens rock-bottom on the table, with no chance of reaching the playoffs, with none of the aura they possessed at the same time last season. None of their batsmen occupy the top 15 of the run-getters list. Glenn Maxwell has batted seven times and scored all of 75 runs. Only one of their bowlers has an economy rate below eight an over. Mitchell Johnson has conceded 9.37 runs an over, and has taken nine wickets at 37.33. They have lost their last five matches, and they needed a Super Over to pull off their last win, on April 21.
Kings XI will face a Knight Riders side who have been close to unbeatable at home - they have won four out of five completed matches at the Eden Gardens - and are close to sealing their playoff berth. Knight Riders will want more than that. They will want to finish in the top two and get two shots at reaching the final.
Given that they have two difficult matches coming up after this one - against fellow top-two aspirants Rajasthan Royals and a resurgent Mumbai Indians - Knight Riders will want to do everything in their power to beat Kings XI and beat them handsomely.
Kolkata Knight Riders WWLWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Kings XI Punjab LLLLL
Watch out for…
In a wretched season for Kings XI, Sandeep Sharma has been a solitary standout, with 11 wickets at 23.00 and an economy rate of 6.65. If he can swing the new ball and make a couple of breakthroughs, he might just give his team a chance of pulling off a consolation win.
After making a vital unbeaten 46 in Knight Riders' first match of the season, Suryakumar Yadav has slid down the order and found himself without too much opportunity to contribute substantial scores. With the playoffs approaching and Knight Riders close to sealing their spot, he will want some time in the middle and a couple of scores behind him.
Stats and trivia
Knight Riders have beaten Kings XI in their last four meetings.