After Capital gains, it’s time the Kolkata Knight Riders give their fans some joy at the Eden Gardens. A five-day gap after the thrashing at the hands of Chris Gayle worked wonders for Gautam Gambhir who led the Knight Riders to a resurgent victory against the Daredevils.
It’s not going to be an easy homecoming, though. Paul Valthaty, Shaun Marsh and Adam Gilchrist await them.
King XI Punjab are raring to have a go at the IPL once again after resting for six days following the failed but inspiring run-chase against the Daredevils. The challenge for Gambhir is to not fritter away the hard-earned momentum.
The victory against the Daredevils has provided the fillip to the Knight Riders and they won't let go of it even if they suffer early setbacks. Their top order left a lot to be desired on Thursday.
Add to that Brad Haddin’s finger injury, which has almost ruled him out of the tournament, while Eoin Morgan and Yusuf Pathan are yet to fire. But Manoj Tiwary, who captained Bengal to the national T20 title this year, came good when it mattered. His 47-ball 65 lifted the team spirits and gave them a total they had the means to defend.
A wily Jaidev Unadkat plucked Virender Sehwag with a shorter one to show that at even a modest 135km/hr, he could be lethal. Iqbal Abdulla shocked everyone with the sharp turn he extracted from the Ferozshah Kotla pitch.
The Eden pitch, thus, could be tailor-made for his kind of bowling on Saturday. Brett Lee is not only firing those yorkers consistently, he has also shown a fair bit of spunk with his athleticism on the field.
The KKR bowling looks far more settled than their batting. And that's because even though they have their main bowlers to bank upon, they can also ask the likes of Jacques Kallis and Pathan to fill in. Against the Daredevils on Thursday, the duo conceded just 17.
But Punjab have a trio that can force any side into submission with their fearsome batting. Valthaty and Marsh have what it takes to snatch the game away from their opponents. And, with the agile Gilchrist still in the thick of things, the Knight Riders know winning at the Eden depends on how early this trio is dismissed.
“If the top three of a team are getting runs then that’s not much of a complaint,” said a beaming Gilchrist on Friday. But on a track that can be slow and low, they could be derailed.