How Dinesh Karthik's Knights may lineup to take on bottom-placed Delhi
After a few days break, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will be back in action as they play against Delhi Daredevils (DD) in an away game. While the team would have been planning and strategizing against their former captain, Gautam Gambhir’s resignation from the post of captaincy has left many baffled. DD, now led by Shreyas Iyer, is placed at the bottom of the table while KKR is currently at the fourth position. While it is a must-win game for both the teams in order to improve their position, only one team will be victorious.
So what’s the best combination that KKR should field to get those crucial points?
Chris Lynn had been struggling with form in the initial matches but not anymore. In the previous game against KXIP, he scored a quick-fire 74 from 41 balls and helped KKR post a competitive total. We all know what Lynn is capable of if he gets going. For KKR and the crowd’s sake, they would be hoping for a Lynn-sane innings from the 28-year-old Australian batsman.
Sunil Narine’s batting position has been a big question so far. While he has had few hits and misses as an opener, using Narine as a floater is definitely not a good option. The West Indies all-rounder can make the most of the power-play overs and is best suited to bat up front. Worst case if he fails, a genuine opening batsman will walk in. As far as bowling is concerned, Narine is KKR’s go-to man when the team is in a fix.
Robin Uthappa has been in decent form and has scored 162 runs in six games so far. While Uthappa has played cameos and provided a good platform for the team, he has failed to put on a big score. With Uthappa’s experience and skills, the team would be hoping that he plays a 70-80 run inning rather than a quick-fire 30-40.
24-year-old Delhi lad, Nitish Rana has been the top performer for KKR with the bat as well as the ball. In six outings, he has scored 165 runs and taken four crucial wickets. The left-handed batsman is a good player of spin bowling and will be used to the conditions at Kotla as it is his home ground.
KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik has been flawless with the bat. Despite batting so late in the order, he has been the highest run scorer for the team and has impressed everyone with his consistency. Karthik would be expected to continue performing the same role as there isn’t much depth in the batting after him.
Lower Order and Spinners
A game changer on his day, Andre Russell is any captain’s favorite. In the previous match, Russell pulled a strain and didn’t complete his second over. His injury has been a concern for him as well as the team. KKR fans would be hoping that a few days rest must have healed the West Indian all-rounder. In case Russell is not match fit, Javon Searles or Cameron Delport will have to fill the massive void.
There’s no doubt that 18-year-old Shubman Gill is immensely talented and a match winner. However, coming at five-down is not a familiar batting position for him. In four matches, he has scored 23 runs in the fag end of the innings. With specialists performing well in the middle-order, Gill would have to adapt quickly to the new responsibilities if he wants to retain his place in the team.
The spin twins Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav have been the stronghold for KKR. While they have been able to put pressure on the opposition with economical spells, they haven’t been able to get as many wickets as they would have liked. Chawla has picked up five while Yadav has taken six wickets in six matches. They would hope to take more wickets on the Delhi pitch that assists spinners.
Roped in as a replacement for injured Mitchell Starc, Tom Curran has had an average outing so far. Curran hasn’t bowled his full quota of overs in any of the games that he has played yet. If Curran wants to cement his position in the team, he would have to live up to his reputation of being a specialist death bowler or else Mitchell Johnson will get more games than him.
19-year-old Shivam Mavi has the ability to rattle any opposition with his sheer pace. While it is a delight to watch the youngster bowl at 140km/hr, his line and length have been wayward at times. In the four games he has played, he has taken two wickets and has an economy of 9.30. If Mavi is able to bowl at the right areas constantly, he will soon be in the reckoning for the national team.
Being at the bottom of the table, DD has nothing to lose. They will give their best to change their fortunes under their new skipper. While there’s no shortage of match winners in their ranks, it is just that DD hasn’t been able to perform as a unit.
KKR, on the other hand, has had a mixed bag so far. They have won three and lost three in the first leg of the tournament. Every game from now on is vital for them if they want to make it to the playoffs. Their pace bowling has been a weakness that has been exploited by all the teams. KKR got the better of DD in their previous encounter and it is likely that they’ll repeat the same.