Kolkata Knight Riders will look to get back to the top of the IPL 2017 standings when they take on Rising Pune Supergiant in Match 41. KKR have consistently played good cricket this season, most definitely with the bat and the ball, though their catching has been sloppy at moments. However, on Sunday night, they had one of their forgettable days in the office when they were blown away by Sunrisers Hyderabad’s David Warner.
That match against SRH is one KKR will want to flush out of their systems immediately and focus towards staying in the top two places in the table. KKR have 7 wins from 10 matches, and with the race for the playoff spots getting keener, Gautam Gambhir’s side will look to collect the full two points from this home fixture.
Rising Pune Supergiant have found some timely momentum in this important phase of the tournament, and as a result find themselves among the top four teams. After winning just one of their first four matches, RPS have surged, winning five of their next six matches. In their most-recent match, Steven Smith’s team recovered from a difficult situation to outclass the Gujarat Lions. RPS now play three consecutive matches on the road, and they will aim to collect at least two points from those three matches to give themselves a good chance of finishing in the final four. If they win this match, they will draw level with KKR on 14 points and establish a significant gap over the rest of the playoff contenders.
Ideally, KKR will like both Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa to get big scores. However,given how well both of them are batting, they will settle even if one of them goes on to make a big score. Gambhir has led from the front and has been a steady accumulator of runs at the top, while a leaner-yet-stronger Uthappa is applying himself better and milking opponents for runs. The KKR management must be glad that both batsmen are converting their starts into fairly big scores; off the nine 50-plus scores between them, five are of 70 or more, which is a fairly big score in the context of T20 cricket.
With the league season heading towards a tense finish and teams jostling for a place in the top four, now is the time for the big players to stand up and deliver.
So look out for Steven Smith, MS Dhoni and Ben Stokes. The English all-rounder, who wants to be in the thick of the action all the time, has already won three Man of the Match awards, two for his bowling performances and one for his match-winning knock.
The one bowler you should keep an eye on is KKR’s Nathan Coulter-Nile. The Australian has been terrific with the ball for KKR; he has been hostile, has bowled quick and has caused plenty of damage already.