IPL: Will KKR demolish Pune tonight?
On a high after back-to-back wins, Kolkata Knight Riders will start favourites against the struggling Pune Warriors India when the two bottom-half teams clash in Ranchi's in an IPL match on Wednesday.
Having achieved consecutive wins, the Gautam Gambhir-led KKR may have to again depend on off-spinner Sunil Narine and experienced all-rounder Jacques Kallis against Pune, a team they beat only last week.
Both played pivotal roles in their win against Royal Challengers Bangalore in KKR's previous match.
Kallis, who had an excellent outing with both the bat and ball against RCB, had said on Sunday, winning would motivate KKR to strive for a playoff berth.
Coach Trevor Bayliss will hope the Kolkata side comes good against Pune.
Image: KKR coach Trevor Bayliss
Pune out of sorts in all departments
Pune, on the other hand, will strive to sign off their campaign on a winning note to make up a bit for their 12 losses and a bottom finish.
Pune Warriors India would have to largely depend on Yuvraj Singh, but he would have to adapt well to the pitch, which did not encourage big hitting during the KKR-RCB tie
This had prompted Kallis to observe that the track at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association International Stadium was not ideal for Twenty20 cricket.
Supporting Kallis's observation, former Bihar Ranji Captain Adil Hussain said, the toss would be vital once again as the pitch appears "unsuitable" for limited overs cricket.
The Warriors, meanwhile, have been woefully out of sorts in all departments of the game. Only opener Robin Uthappa and all-rounder Angelo Matthews have shown some spark of late.
Image: Pune Warriors players
Pune's bowling is also a big worry
The batting is yet to fire in unison and only the openers have scored some runs at the top. Barring skipper Aaron Finch's three half-centuries and Uthappa's couple of half-centuries this season, no other Pune batsman has scored a fifty so far.
Yuvraj has managed just 205 runs from his 11 games, while dangerous batsman Steve Smith has returned to Australia due to a back injury.
Bowling also remains a big concern for Pune, especially at the death, as most of their bowlers have leaked runs. Pace spearhead Ashok Dinda has been expensive in most of the games he has played.
Pune Warriors: Aaron Finch (captain), Angelo Mathews, Abhishek Nayar, Ajanta Mendis, Ali Murtaza, Anustup Mazumdar, Ashok Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dheeraj Jadhav, Eklavya Dwivedi, Harpreet Singh, Ishwar Pandey, Kane Richardson, Krishnakant Upadhyay, Luke Wright, Mahesh Rawat, Manish Pandey, Marlon Samuels, Mitchell Marsh, Mithun Manhas, Parveez Rasool, Rahul Sharma, R Gomez, Robin Uthappa, Shrikant Wagh, T Suman, Tamim Iqbal, Udit Birla, Wayne Parnell and Yuvraj Singh.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (C), Manvinder Bisla, Yusuf Pathan, Jacques Kallis, Rajat Bhatia, Laxmipathy Balaji, Sarabjit Ladda, Brad Haddin, Debabrata Das, Iqbal Abdulla, Brett Lee, Ryan McLaren, Eoin Morgan, Sunil Narine, Sumit Narwal, Suchitra Senanayake, Pradeep Sangwan, Shami Ahmed, Shakib Al Hasan, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Ryan ten Doeschate, Manoj Tiwary, James Pattinson.
Image: Pune Warriors players celebrate a wicket