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Kolkata Knight Riders are masters of their destiny

Any celebration will be premature until the team seal their play-off berth. Gautam Gambhir knows this very well as he tries to lead the Kolkata Knight Riders into the last four of the Indian Premier League for the first time ever. Nikhilesh Bhattacharya reports. Match box

cricket Updated: May 07, 2011 01:37 IST
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya

Any celebration will be premature until the team seal their play-off berth. Gautam Gambhir knows this very well as he tries to lead the Kolkata Knight Riders into the last four of the Indian Premier League for the first time ever.

To be fair to Gambhir, this is his first attempt, having come on board with a host of new faces before IPL 4. The new-look Knight Riders have delivered, staying among the top four in the league table for most of the tournament.

However, Thursday's loss in Kochi has left the team with a few challenges to overcome in the remaining four league matches. The Knight Riders need at least two more wins to feel confident of progressing to the playoffs. The turnaround must begin on Saturday at Eden Gardens against a team who have usually beaten them for fun.

Tough opponents
The Chennai Super Kings have lost to Shah Rukh Khan's boys only once, in South Africa in 2009. The last of their five wins came when the Knight Riders choked after appearing to have a tough chase under control in the season opener in Chennai.

After Saturday's match, the Knight Riders will get a week's rest before hitting the road.

The two away matches include one in Navi Mumbai on May 19 that will pit the Knight Riders against former skipper Sourav Ganguly and his new franchise, Pune Warriors India. Already a couple of former Knights - Chris Gayle of
Royal Challengers Bangalore and Brad Hodge of Kochi Tuskers Kerala - have hurt them this season. Knight Riders' fans will be braced for something similar from the Prince of Kolkata.

Do it yourself
The Knight Riders' last league match on May 22 will be against the Mumbai Indians, another team they have beaten only once in six attempts. Gambhir would ideally want to seal the playoff berth before that.

The good thing for the Knight Riders is that their fate is still in their hands, which was rarely the case at this stage of the tournament in the last three years under Ganguly and Brendon McCullum.

A playoff berth is theirs to lose and they can prevent that without waiting for favourable results in other matches or having to calculate run rates. Match box

Taming the defending champions at Eden on Saturday will be good place to start. And given the Super Kings' abysmal record on the road this season, it may not be impossible.