Kolkata Knight Riders will be looking to bounce back into contention when they face Auckland Aces on Monday, October 15.
KKR made a disastrous beginning to their campaign with a 52-run defeat to Delhi Daredevils. By contrast Auckland have had a dream run in the Champions League qualifiers beating Sialkot Stallions and Hampshire with great conviction.
Auckland’s winning start was owed largely to their star trio of Martin Guptill, Kyle Mills and Azhar Mahmood. Lou Vincent adds further strength to the batting while skipper Gareth Hopkins, Colin de Grandhomme and Colin Munro are all capable of slogging even as they bring stability to the middle order.
Their bowling has been spearheaded by Mills and he has the reliable company of Azhar Mahmood and Andre Adams. Additionally, Ronnie Hira gives skipper Hopkins a useful spin option.
KKR will need to look at the composition of the team likely to take the field on Monday after an abject collapse by their top order in the Delhi Daredevils game. Their vaunted trio of Gambhir, Kallis and Mccullum failed to score and Gambhir could think of some radical changes, such as promoting himself up the order to replace Bisla as McCullum’s opening partner.
But there’s nothing wrong with the bowling attack and Brett Lee’s form against Delhi would have pleased skipper Gambhir no end. Kallis and Sunil Narine add to the formidable line up in which Balaji’s poor form is the only black lining though there’s nothing that a single good spell cannot cure. There is a strong case for the inclusion of Shakib Hasan who made the most of the opportunities given to him in the IPL season though his inclusion can only come at the expense of McCullum and that would be a tough call for Gambhir to take.
Gambhir will want his lower order batsmen — especially Yusuf Pathan — to stand up to be counted, if KKR are to make a dent in this tournament. For Auckland, Azhar Mahmood is the man to watch and the result of Monday’s game could boil down to what this man does with leather and willow alike.
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Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
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.