Kolkata Knight Riders desperately need a victory on Thursday against Chennai Super Kings to stand a chance of qualifying for playoffs.
There are only four days left in the group stage of the IPL 2020. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) were favorites to qualify for playoffs at the halfway stage find themselves in a state of bother. They are fifth in the table courtesy of a poorer net run-rate than fourth-placed Kings XI Punjab. A win in the next two games will help KKR qualify for the knockout stages.
KKR’s penultimate game comes against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on October 29 at Dubai International stadium. CSK are already eliminated from the tournament, so they are just playing for pride. After beating Royal Challengers Bangalore in the last game, CSK will be looking to end the tournament in style by winning the final two games of the season.
CSK finally managed to get the chasing part right after losing a series of games since defeating KXIP by ten wickets in the initial phase of the season. Ruturaj Gaikwad shone while opening the batting, scoring a fluent half-century. The young batsman is likely to get chances in the last two games. Ambati Rayadu also did well against RCB. A strong ending to older batsmen would be a fitting end to an era at CSK.
Earlier this week, KKR’s batting unit struggled against KXIP. Eoin Morgan and Shubman Gill posted respectable scores, but the rest of the batsmen couldn’t compliment them. Morgan will be hoping that Andre Russell returns for this game and make an impact. A poor start against CSK may cost KKR the game as their bowlers are good at stopping the flow of runs.
Pats Cummins has been blowing hot and cold throughout the tournament. He impressed the viewers during the match against Delhi Capitals last weekend but then went on to go wicketless against KXIP. The Australian bowler needs to find the rhythm in the last two group games to at least concede fewer runs. Fresh from a callup from the national team, Varun Chakravarthy will be looking to continue his good run of form. Sunil Narine also needs to take responsibility in middle overs.
CSK’s pace bowling unit has done fairly well this season. Sam Curran and Deepak Chahar have stood out with consistent performances. Curran bowled an economical spell against RCB and took three wickets. The spinners have been a headache for Chennai based team this season. Imran Tahir has been playing the last two games, though. He is yet to get his rhythm due to a lack of playing time. The South African bowler will be looking to get things right against KKR.
There is too much on the line for KKR in this game. They have crumbled under pressure this season, so it will be interesting to see how they go about their business against CSK. Dhoni’s men have nothing to lose now, making them a dangerous side to face at this stage of the competition.
By Kiran Thakare