After returning to winning ways with a hard fought triumph over Delhi Daredevils, the Kolkata Knight Riders will be hungry for more when they take on a formidable Kings XI Punjab at home, in their Indian Premier League clash in Kolkata on Saturday.
After suffering two consecutive losses, the Knight Riders came back strongly to beat Delhi Daredevils by 19 runs on Thursday night. Be it in fielding or bowling, the Knight Riders showed intensity, something that was needed, after Manoj Tiwary salvaged the batting with a fluent, yet combative innings.
Often criticised for not being able to provide the finishing touches in the Knight Riders' close losses, the stylish Tiwary remained unbeaten with his 61 from 47 balls, which included three powerful sixes.
On a day the established Jacques Kallis, Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan and Eoin Morgan aggregated just 34, it proved to be a match-winning knock for the Team India fringe batsman.
Yet, the total did not look match-winning, had it not been for the die-hard efforts by the bowlers and the fielders.
Brett Lee led the attack with amazing accuracy. An inspirational penultimate over by Lee in fact nailed the last chances of the Daredevils. With 26 needed from last two overs and two batsmen looking to go for the kill, it could have been anybody's game in the Twenty20 scheme of things. But Lee conceded two runs and effected two run-outs, one of them in true slam dunk fashion for the final rites of the Delhi outfit.
Kallis failed with the bat but the 35-year-old dished out a some fighting saves on the boundary to lift the morale of the side.
The win meant that the Knight Riders are at number two -- ahead of Chennai Super Kings -- at the midway stage of the Twenty20 tournament and as Gambhir pointed out, it was morale-boosting. It remains to be seen whether Gambhir leads the pack, often in news for all the wrong reasons, to the pinnacle.
As Knight Riders launch their mission to the next stage after completing half of their league phase, it is all about maintaining the momentum hereafter.
With three more home matches lined up -- Kings XI Punjab, Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians -- it is crucial for the Knight Riders not to lose the grip of it. At the slow Eden Gardens strip on Saturday, Gambhir will certainly give a thought about bringing in Bangladeshi skipper and left arm spinner Shakib-al-Hasan in the four foreigner line-up.