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IPL 2017, KKR vs GL: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) today's probable playing XI against Gujarat Lions (GL), Match 23

Kolkata Knight Riders will look to extend their lead at the top when they host Gujarat Lions at Eden Gardens.

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Gautam Gambhir will hope for a repeat of his performance from the first game against the Lions

Kolkata Knight Riders are flying high at the top of the IPL table despite losing star batsman Chris Lynn to injury. The Knight Riders have won four out of their five fixtures thus far and look the most complete side in the tournament.

With skipper Gautam Gambhir leading from the front, the Shah Rukh Khan-owned side will be looking to maintain their dominance when they play host to bottom-of-the-table Gujarat Lions. The Lions, after a phenomenal run last year, have struggled to get their balance right and have succumbed to defeat after defeat this time around.

Their balance of foreign and Indian players seems to be off and they will need to get it right if they are to stand a chance against the Knights. For KKR, their opening combination seems to be the only worry. In Lynn’s absence, Colin de Grandhomme and Sunil Narine have been tried at the top but both have flattered to deceive. Hence, a change is on the cards.

In their meeting earlier this season, KKR romped to a 10-wicket win thanks to the efforts of Gambhir and Lynn but in the Aussies’ absence, they have had to tinker with their batting order.

Take a look at how they could line up in the game at Eden Gardens:

Openers

Gautam Gambhir

Gambhir has looked in fine nick this season. The skipper has amassed 196 runs from five matches at an astonishing average of 65.33 and strike rate of 142.2 including two half centuries. Gambhir did fail in the last couple of games but back home at Eden Gardens, he will be looking to get his side off to a flier. Gujarat do not boast of a potent opening bowling combination and this will definitely work in his favour if he can see of Praveen Kumar’s initial spell.

Robin Uthappa

Uthappa has been utilised in the middle order in this tournament and has failed to reach the heights he did last campaign. With Chris Lynn ruled out for a couple more weeks and Narine and de Grandhomme both misfiring at the top, a promotion could be in order for the wicketkeeper. Uthappa formed a formidable opening combination with Gambhir last season and will be looking to do the same if he is indeed made to open.

Middle Order

Manish Pandey

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Pandey has been in sublime form this season

KKR’s highest run scorer this season, Pandey is averaging a mind-numbing 221 across four innings. He has been dismissed just once in the tournament and is the third highest run-getter currently. Pandey has the ability to build his innings carefully before launching an attack late on which makes him all the more dangerous.

Yusuf Pathan

Pathan was at his destructive best in the previous game against Delhi as he smashed his way to 59 off 39 balls. With Gujarat Lions not possessing the most fearsome bowling attack, Pathan could come to the party yet again.

Suryakumar Yadav

Suryakumar Yadav hasn’t really had much of an opportunity to shine this season. He’s managed just 28 runs in 3 innings thus far, however, his numbers do not tell the whole story. He has often come late in the innings and has been forced to go big from ball one. He has performed admirably for KKR in the past so expect him to step up when his side are in trouble.

All-rounders

Shakib Al Hasan

With Colin de Grandhomme making no impact on the team’s performance, Bangladeshi sensation Shakib Al Hasan is set to make his return. The southpaw is dangerous with both bat and ball and was one of KKR’s better players last season. Shakib can be trusted to bowl four economical overs, which would take the pressure off Sunil Narine. He would also be a useful option in the powerplay against McCullum and Smith who are not great players of spin. 

Chris Woakes

Woakes has had an up and down season for the Knight Riders so far. While he has picked up wickets at regular intervals – 6 in 5 matches – he has been quite expensive in the process. The Englishman has gone for just under 10 an over in the tournament till date. He has often struggled at the death with his yorkers and it could be a smart move to use his full quota of overs by the 15-over mark.

Bowlers

Sunil Narine

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Narine will look to contain Gujarat in the middle overs

Narine struggled in the first couple of games but seems to have finally found his rhythm. While he has just picked up 4 wickets in his 5 matches thus far, he has gone at just 5.6 runs an over, which is outstanding, to say the least. The West Indian might have his work cut out as the Lions have some decent players of spin in the middle order, including Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina.

Nathan Coulter-Nile

Coulter-Nile replaced Trent Boult in the line-up for the game against Delhi Daredevils and proved his worth, returning figures of 3/22. The Aussie was handy with the new ball and returned at the death with some classic yorkers to keep the Daredevils batting lineup in check. Coulter-Nile is no mug with the willow in hand and can hit the ball long, if necessary.

Umesh Yadav

Umesh Yadav was India’s standout bowler in the Test season, however, he has failed to translate that success into the limited overs format. Yadav was taken to the cleaners against Delhi as he conceded a whopping 53 runs in his 4 overs, picking up the solitary wicket of Sanju Samson. Yadav will have to be right on the money against the Lions as McCullum, Smith and Raina could tear him apart if he errs.

Kuldeep Yadav

Kuldeep is expected to get the nod ahead of Piyush Chawla. While he hasn’t been at his most economical in the tournament so far, he is a genuine wicket taking option. Kuldeep’s variations could come in handy against the likes of Dinesh Karthik, Raina and Ishan Kishan who will look to target the Knight Riders spinners.

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