Kolkata Knight Riders will host Pune warriors on Saturday, May 5, 2012, in a homecoming game for Saurav Ganguly. Ironically, the Eden Gardens could see a full house with more support for Pune warriors than for the home side.
KKR have been on a roll in this IPL but their success has been largely built around the batting of skipper Gambhir. Their other batsmen including Kallis and Pathan have largely disappointed and the question mark over the batting must be the biggest possible hurdle to KKR’s title bid. Bisla has been among the runs but is unlikely to replace McCullum who has been part of winning set up.
The bowlers, unlike the batsmen, have done a splendid job, and Lee and Narine have been exceptional, with great support from Balaji, who unfortunately looks likely to miss out on Saturday’s game owing to a hamstring problem. Bhatia has performed to expectation with his slow seamers while Abdullah is yet to strike any kind of form.
PW are virtually at the end of their tether after losing by a run to MI in a game that they should have won, on Thursday. Ganguly’s men will need to win at least four of their remaining five games to stay in contention for a place in the play off round. PW’s batting has been a disappointment, with the likes of Ganguly and Uthappa registering a couple of useful knocks but at a strike rate that’s been well below par for this format. Ryder’s flamboyance has got him runs but does not bode well in terms of consistency. Smith has been the sole consistent batsman but in a thin batting line up, there’s a limit to what one man can achieve.
PW’s bowlers have performed much better, with Parnell, Kumar and Nehra coming to the party against MI. Kartik, as ever, has been aggressively competitive, though he doesn’t have many wickets to show for it. Dinda’s return to the side could rejuvenate the campaign for a side that’s desperate for a win after four consecutive losses.
In what is likely to be a rain interrupted game, the side winning the toss could opt to field first, and the cloud cover should help the seamers in both sides. KKR are favourites but would be well advised not to underestimate PW who are overdue for a win that could come at Ganguly’s home town, and the skipper himself could turn the corner with the bat, with some inspiration from the crowd.
KKR’s probable eleven: McCullum, Gambhir, Shukla, Kallis, Tiwary, Pathan, Bhatia, Das, Narine, Lee, Abdullah.
PW’s probable eleven: Ryder, Clarke, Ganguly, Uthappa, Smith, Manhas, Parnell, Dinda, Kumar, Kartik, Nehra.
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An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.