Preview by Akash Sarkar
Kolkata Knight Riders walked into the UAE leg of IPL 2021 knowing they had to win six out of their seven matches. The loss against Chennai Super Kings could have had a different result but KKR now have a realistic chance of making the playoffs and completing their goal of six wins. Their next three matches are against Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad. With Mumbai Indians tied on points and only behind because of net run rate, KKR do not have the option to breathe ease.
While things haven’t been ideal for PBKS, they are still in the hunt despite their demoralising loss against MI. KL Rahul’s side have batting issues to sort after their last match where the captain felt his batters should have posted at least 170 on a good batting track in Abu Dhabi. PBKS did fare better in the clash against Rajasthan Royal in Dubai, where they now play KKR, but eventually lost the contest by two runs. The opportunities to make amends, however, are slipping away quite swiftly and the KKR challenge won’t be an easy one to neutralise especially after the way Eoin Mogan’s men slayed Delhi Capitals.
When: KKR vs PBKS, October 1, 2021, 19:30 IST, 18:00 local time
Where: Dubai International Cricket Stadium
What to expect: Better batting conditions and a slightly cooler evening is expected to welcome the teams. With scoring relatively easy, the captains will prefer to chase.
Head To Head: KKR 19 – 9 PBKS. The last time these two sides met, KKR had an easy win in Ahmedabad and were able to break their four-match losing streak.
Injured/Unavailable: Andre Russell is likely to be out for a while. Dinesh Karthik, post the DC match, felt the issue that forced Lockie Ferguson off the field wasn’t serious.
Tactics & Matchups: Sunil Narine loves playing against PBKS. He’s picked 30 wickets against them, has his best figures against them and also has his best IPL score against them. He eased the side to a win with his attacking display in the death overs against DC. Rahul has had the wood over Narine and it’ll be key that the PBKS captain does his bit to hurt KKR’s premier spinner.
Probable XI: Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Rahul Tripathi, Eoin Morgan (c), Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Sunil Narine, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Sandeep Warrier, Varun Chakaravarthy
Injured/Unavailable: Chris Gayle has left the IPL bio-bubble and won’t be available for PBKS’ remaining IPL 2021 matches. Mayank Agarwal missed the last match because of a stiff back but should come in for Mandeep Singh.
Tactics & Matchups: PBKS’ chances of winning will depend on how they play the middle overs against KKR and their spinners. Barring the game against CSK, Chakaravarthy and Narine have given runs at less than six an over in the three matches against RCB, MI and DC in their eight overs. Shubman Gill averages more than 72 against PBKS. It’ll be crucial that the bowlers are able to break the Gill-Venkatesh Iyer combination early to put the middle order under pressure.
Probable XI: KL Rahul(w/c), Mandeep Singh/Mayank Agarwal, Aiden Markram, Nicholas Pooran, Deepak Hooda, Fabian Allen, Harpreet Brar, Nathan Ellis, Mohammed Shami, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh
Did you know?
– While Anrich Nortje has been praised for his pace, Lockie Ferguson has delivered the top two fastest deliveries in IPL 2021 at 152.75 and 152.74 kph.
– KKR have been a bogey team for PBKS and have 19 wins against them – the most they have over any other side.
What they said:
“We need to be positive. We have three games, so we need to take one game at a time. We need to go out there and enjoy ourselves. All our games in the UAE have gone down to the wire, hopefully, we can build on that” – KL Rahul.
“The talent was always there and it was about getting the combination right. The combination is now kind of set, we got off to a good run at the start. Lockie has been bowling well as well so small little things falling in place for us” – Dinesh Karthik.