KKR eye resurgence against in-form Pune
Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders would look to put behind the disappointment of a heavy defeat when they face a resurgent Rising Pune Supergiant in an Indian Premier League clash here on Wednesday. While KKR suffered their heaviest defeat of the season against Sunrisers Hyderabad in their last game, Pune seem to have found their mojo in the business end of the tournament, having registered consecutive wins in their last two matches.
Looking unstoppable with a hat-trick of wins and enjoying a two-point lead over Mumbai Indians, KKR's winning streak was stopped by Sunrisers.
KKR will now be under pressure to secure the magic number of 16 points and seal their place in the knock-out stage after Mumbai became the first team to secure a play-off berth. The manner of KKR's defeat in the rain-interrupted match could be a reality check for the Kolkata outfit that looked heavily reliant on their top-order batting.
Opting to bowl, KKR first had to deal with the combined assault of centurion David Warner and Kane Williamson to concede 200 for the first time this season.
In reply, KKR's batsmen had no answer to SRH's 209 and were eventually restricted to 161 for seven as the team slumped to its third defeat of the season. Barring Robin Uthappa, who made a valiant half-century, no other KKR batsmen lived up to the challenge, exposing the chinks in their middle and lower order.
The confidence of skipper Gautam Gambhir, who had said during the toss against Sunrisers that they are "comfortable chasing so no point changing" the playing eleven, is bound to take a hit and he will be forced to ring in changes. KKR so far has been cashing in on their top-order with Sunil Narine's hit-and-miss experiment at the top. When Narine gets going, there is no stopping KKR as more often than not Gambhir and Uthappa have capitalised on the starts.
But in the event of a failure of the trio, the likes of Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan must take up responsibility. Pandey has been in form and needs someone to lend support but KKR have struggled so far at number 6 and 7, the most crucial positions in a limited overs format. Be it Sheldon Jackson or Suryakumar Yadav, none has delivered and has been a big letdown for KKR and Jharkhand's Ishank Jaggi might just get a look-in.