KOLKATA: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) captain Gautam Gambhir would want the weather gods to smile on them when they take on Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in a must-win Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter at the Eden Gardens here on Sunday.
It has been raining here heavily for the past few days and according to a Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) official, the conditions are likely to continue till Sunday.
Just before the World T20 earlier this year, the Eden Gardens management had revamped their infrastructure but it would be quite a challenge to get in a game with this kind of weather around.
Like the previous season, KKR once again seems to have lost the plot. They needed to win one out of two games last year but they failed to do so. This time too the two-time champions had to win one out of three and they have lost two on the trot. The men-in-purple presently have 7 wins from 13 outings.
In the last game, the strong KKR batting line-up which has some of the biggest names in domestic cricket failed to deliver. Gujarat Lions restricted them to a paltry 124/8 and then quite easily overhauled the total with six wickets and 39 balls to spare.
Sunrisers who are sitting pretty on the top half of the table have already pocketed eight matches and will be in the playoffs even if they lose to KKR.
But their captain David Warner would not ideally want to feature in the last four by surrendering their last two group contests.
In their previous meeting against Delhi Daredevils on Friday, the Warner-led side almost grabbed a hard-fought victory but rival batsman Karun Nair hit a last ball boundary to edge past the target of 160.
The last time these two sides had met KKR had coasted to victory with 8 wickets in hand and that would give confidence to Gambhir’s side.
The Eden track is likely to turn and the Knights would have to depend on their spinners. It would be interesting to also see if Gambhir takes the bold decision of selecting chinaman tweaker Brad Hogg over an off-colour Sunil Narine.
Another huge concern for the hosts would be the fitness on all rounder Andre Russell, who had to sit out the last game because of a hamstring problem.
The home side would want their top order to fire, which has been silent in the previous few games. If they do, they have the likes of Yusuf Pathan to follow who can take away a contest in a matter of few overs.
Hyderabad are a batting heavy team with Warner and Shikhar Dhawan as their talismanic openers and the Knights need to get rid of them as quickly as possible to have an early impact on the game.
The Sunrisers bowling have been ably led by the likes of Bangladesh speedster Mustafizur Rahman and Bhuvneshwar Kumar but have leaked runs in pressure situations.
With the Knights fighting for survival and a vociferous crowd egging them on, the match promises to be an engaging one.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, Shakib Al Hasan, Piyush Chawla, Sunil Narine, Ankit Rajpoot, Morne Morkel, Chris Lynn, Colin Munro, Brad Hogg, Shaun Tait, Jason Holder, Umesh Yadav, Sheldon Jackson, Jaydev Unadkat and Rajagopal Sathish
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner (captain), Ashish Reddy, Ricky Bhui, Bipul Sharma, Trent Boult, Ben Cutting, Shikar Dhawan, Moises Henriques, Deepak Hooda, Siddarth Kaul, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Abhimanyu Midtun, Eoin Morgan, Mustafizur Rahman, Ashish Mehra, Naman Ojha, Vijay Shanker, Karn Sharma, Barinder Sran, T Suman, Aditya Tare, Kane Williamson and Yuvraj Singh.