From Gujarat’s perspective, while this season could not have begun any worse, they still have time to battle other sides for a place in the top four and IPL 2017 playoffs. The Lions’s bowling has been a major letdown so far. The one-dimensional nature of their bowling attack is a massive worry for the team management and has the potential to completely undermine their season.
While Gujarat are a little too reliant on their batsmen, Kolkata are a well-rounded side who have solid opening batsmen, power-hitters in their middle order and a potent bowling attack. Considering the way the season has panned out for these two teams so far, there are no prizes for guessing as to who the favourites are for match 23, at the Eden Gardens.
Form Guide: KKR vs GL
KKR vs GL Head-to-head
Gujarat Lions, as they had done against a lot of teams last season, did the double over the Knight Riders as well. KKR opened their account against Gujarat by winning their opening match of this season by 10 wickets. Knight Riders take the Lions on in the reverse fixture at the Eden Gardens on Friday, when these two sides will meet for the fourth time.
KKR 1-2 GL
Match 23: KKR vs GL Playing XI
Knight Riders’s batting line-up has remained largely the same so far this season. Yes, Gautam Gambhir has had three different opening partners (Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine and Colin de Grandhomme) in the first five matches, but on the whole, none of the batsmen, other than the injured Lynn, has been dropped or rested yet.
On the other hand, the bowlers have been rotated a bit, with Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav, in particular, being dropped from the playing XI for almost every other match. For match 23 as well, Kolkata might bring in Chawla for Kuldeep, who played against Delhi on Monday night. KKR will probably not want to risk Kuldeep against the big-hitting right-handers like Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith and Dinesh Karthik, among others, in the Gujarat line-up.
Another possible change is Shakib Al Hasan coming in for de Grandhomme or Chris Woakes, who has been too expensive with the ball this season.
Therefore, KKR’s possible playing XI v GL is as follows: 1. Gautam Gambhir (c), 2. Sunil Narine, 3. Robin Uthappa (wk), 4. Manish Pandey, 5. Yusuf Pathan, 6. Suryakumar Yadav, 7. Colin de Grandhomme/Shakib Al Hasan, 8. Chris Woakes, 9. Piyush Chawla, 10. Nathan Coulter-Nile, and 11. Umesh Yadav
KKR’s actual playing XI: 1. Gautam Gambhir (c), 2. Sunil Narine, 3. Robin Uthappa (wk), 4. Manish Pandey, 5. Yusuf Pathan, 6. Suryakumar Yadav, 7. Shakib Al Hasan, 8. Chris Woakes, 9. Kuldeep Yadav, 10. Nathan Coulter-Nile, and 11. Umesh Yadav
For Gujarat Lions, the team selection is unlikely to be as straightforward as for their Friday’s opponents. But at least a couple of changes are expected in Gujarat’s playing XI for the meeting with Kolkata at the Eden Gardens.
They have placed immense faith on young Shivil Kaushik, who has struggled for consistency in line and length. He has been easily picked off by almost every batting line-up and from Gujarat Lions’ viewpoint, they have not enjoyed the desired impact from playing an unorthodox spinner. I expect Shadab Jakati to return to the fold.
Aaron Finch and Dwayne Smith are a cause of more headache for tonight’s visitors, who have been obdurate in not utilising Jason Roy despite picking him at the auction for one Crore rupees. With almost half the season gone and neither Finch nor Smith coming good, Gujarat need to make a decision quickly.
Dwayne Bravo is probably two more matches away from returning to the action. His return could be a massive boost for the Lions, who, however, must get back to winning ways sooner rather than later. Once Bravo returns, only Finch or Smith might play. And chances are that both of them might get the axe as well, with Roy taking one of the two overseas slots which will become available. For the clash against Knight Riders, Roy might replace Finch and open alongside the in-form Brendon McCullum, or at least find a middle order spot.
With these probable changes to Gujarat’s playing XI, here’s what you can expect tonight: 1. Suresh Raina (c), 2. Brendon McCullum, 3. Jason Roy, 4. Dinesh Karthik (wk), 5. Dwayne Smith, 6. Ishan Kishan, 7. Ravindra Jadeja, 8. Andrew Tye, 9. Dhawal Kulkarni, 10. Basil Thampi, and 11. Shadab Jakati
Actual playing XI for Gujarat: 1. Suresh Raina (c), 2. Brendon McCullum, 3. Dwayne Smith, 4. Dinesh Karthik (wk), 5. Aaron Finch, 6. Ishan Kishan, 7. Ravindra Jadeja, 8. James Faulkner, 9. Dhawal Kulkarni, 10. Basil Thampi, and 11. Praveen Kumar
Dear reader, who among Dwayne Smith and Aaron Finch will you pick if you were part of the Gujarat Lions’s team management?