It's a do-or-die for KKR against Perth Scorchers
With their backs to wall, a desperate Kolkata Knight Riders will take on Perth Scorchers in a do-or-die penultimate group league encounter in the Champions League T20 in Durban on Wednesday.
The IPL champions led by Gautam Gambhir have comprehensively lost their first two games against Delhi Daredevils and qualifiers Auckland Aces and are now in a must-win situation against the Australian side who would also like to notch up their first victory in the tournament.
However the job will be easier said than done for the Knights who have looked totally out of sorts on the bouncy South African pitches where there is also some seam movement on offer for the fast bowlers.
Having played their first two matches in Johannesburg and Cape Town, the KKR caravan now moves to Kingsmead which has one of the liveliest 22-yards in the history of the game.
Image: Kolkata Knight Riders' players
Brett Lee is expected to make a comeback
Save Manoj Tiwary, who scored 33 against Daredevils, almost all the KKR batsmen have struggled against pace and bounce and Kingsmead strip will only compound the worries of Gambhir and Co.
Skipper Gambhir's poor form has also affected the team's chances and it will be interesting to watch as to how he copes against the pace and movement generated by the likes of Nathan Rimmington, Joe Mennie and Mitchell Marsh.
In the bowling department, Brett Lee is expected to make a comeback in the playing XI while Jacques Kallis, Sunil Narine and Brendon McCullum are certain to retain their places in the line-up.
Seamer Lakshmipathy Balaji's form is also a big concern for the Knights as he has hardly been effective in the two matches so far. May be his lack of pace, tendency to bowl slower deliveries makes him a tad predictable as batsmen have played him with ease.
Gibbs needs to fire guns for Scorchers
For the Scorchers, Herschelle Gibbs will like to come good after a poor first outing. Gibbs on his day can tear apart any bowling line-up in the world and when he is around, any target looks achievable.
Mitchell Marsh is another talented player who has the ability to make a lot of difference.
The biggest advantage for the majority of the players is the fact that they have played a lot of cricket at the WACA ground in Perth which has conditions similar to that of Kingsmead and therefore it will be one hell of a battle for the Knights in their bid to technically stay afloat in the competition.
Teams (from):Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (c), LakshmipathyBalaji, Rajat Bhatia, Manvinder Bisla (Wk), Debabrata Das, Iqbal Abdulla, Jacques Kallis, Brett Lee, Brendon McCullum(Wk), Sunil Narine, Yusuf Pathan, Pradeep Sangwan, Shakib AlHasan, Ryan ten Doeschate, Manoj Tiwary.
Perth Scorchers: Marcus North (c), Tom Beaton, MichaelBeer, Paul Collingwood, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Ryan Duffield,Ben Edmondson, Herschelle Gibbs, Brad Hogg, Simon Katich, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Joe Mennie, Nathan Rimmington, Luke Ronchi.
Image: Herschelle Gibbs of the Scorchers
Photographs: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images