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IPL 2018: Kolkata Knight Riders face tough test against in-form Sunrisers Hyderabad

On a roll with successive wins, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) stand in the way Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), who will be looking to bring their campaign back on track during an Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 clash at the Eden Gardens on Saturday.

cricket Updated: Apr 13, 2018 21:07 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
IPL 2018,Kolkata Knight Riders,Sunrisers Hyderabad
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) face Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in their third game of IPL 2018 on Saturday. (PTI )

Two games don’t constitute a trend especially in T20s but Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) go into Saturday’s match here against Sunrisers Hyderabad worrying about Indians in their pace attack. (IPL 2018 FULL COVERAGE)

More specifically, R Vinay Kumar. In 3.5 overs in two games where he bowled the first and last overs, the Karnataka medium-pacer has leaked 65 runs which contributed to KKR not being able to defend 202 in Chennai. It had Heath Streak, KKR’s bowling coach, pointing out that at Kumar’s pace, which is around 125-130 kmph, accuracy and execution becomes more important than someone who bowls at 135-140 kmph.

So, enter Kamlesh Nagarkoti or Shivam Mavi? “At this point, can’t say whether we are going for Nagarkoti or Mavi. We will think about it tonight and decide the combination, take a call tomorrow,” said skipper Dinesh Karthik after training on Friday. Having played on Thursday, Sunrisers Hyderabad skipped training before the game.

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This was before unconfirmed reports emerged that Kamlesh Nagarkoti, bought for Rs 3.20 crore, might miss the tournament due to injury. A statement saying only BCCI or IPL “can do official announcement with regards to players and their replacements” was all that a KKR official had to say on Nagarkoti.

The India under-19 stars bowl faster than 34-year-old Vinay but running in against Shikhar Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha, Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, to say nothing of Yusuf Pathan and Shakib Al Hasan, will be a lot different than the teens’ World Cup.

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The spinners look evenly matched but even with Mitchell Johnson available, KKR may be a step behind when it comes to fast bowlers. With only 19 players on the roster, KKR aren’t exactly spoilt for choice in that department.

What could also be tested is KKR’s lower middle-order. Given their bowling depth, the opposition could create a case of Hyderabad blues for the Knights whose power hitting at the top and back-end have so far covered for Rinku Singh and those who follow him.

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Current leaders Sunrisers Hyderabad have conceded only 125 and 147 on way to making it two-in-two and on Thursday, they restricted Mumbai Indians without Bhuvneshwar Kumar who is nursing a stiff back.

It would therefore be interesting to see if KKR give Ishank Jaggi his first game of IPL 11. Jaggi has been a journeyman whose first IPL team was Deccan Chargers, which made way for Sunrisers Hyderabad. Chris Lynn’s connection with them is more immediate but not later than 2013. Contrast that with Shakib, Pandey and Pathan being an integral part of KKR and it could mean that Eden doesn’t feel like home only for the purple shirts.

“Yusuf and Manish know all the grounds in India. They will feel familiar here but all players are aware of how it goes around in India for sure,” said Karthik.

As a Knight, Pathan hit a 22-ball 72 here against Sunrisers in 2014 that is part of IPL folklore. It had helped KKR notch up one of their five straight wins against Sunrisers Hyderabad at Eden. That is how it stands going into Saturday night and the new-look home team would certainly hope the trend continues.

First Published: Apr 13, 2018 19:24 IST