A new-look Punjab Kings side, dripping with power and depth, hunted down 206
against Royal Challengers Bangalore to kick off their season in grand style. They now run into Kolkata Knight Riders, who play with similar attacking intent and freedom.
The result didn’t go in Knight Riders’ way on Wednesday
, but they stayed true to their playbook, hitting more boundaries than Royal Challengers.
An intriguing subplot to look forward to on Friday is Andre Russell, if he’s fit enough, vs Odean Smith. Russell is still the gold standard of T20 cricket while Smith is the latest big-hitting allrounder
from the Caribbean. Smith has modelled his game
on Russell and he recently won the T10 league
with his idol at Deccan Gladiators in Abu Dhabi. In the last IPL, Smith even worked with Russell as a net bowler at Knight Riders. IPL 2022, however, has pitted them against each other.
After Wednesday’s game, where Russell bowled only three overs, Knight Riders head coach Brendon McCullum said that the allrounder’s shoulder was sore after he dived near the boundary. If Russell doesn’t recover in time, Knight Riders could instead call up Mohammad Nabi or Chamika Karunaratne.
South Africa quick Kagiso Rabada is out of quarantine and trained with the Kings after having participated in the ODI series at home against Bangladesh. Jonny Bairstow, however, is unavailable for Kings’ second game as he is yet to complete quarantine upon arrival from the Caribbean.
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Venkatesh Iyer, 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Shreyas Iyer (capt), 4 Nitish Rana, 5 Sam Billings, 6 Sheldon Jackson (wk), 7 Andre Russell/Chamika Karunaratne/Mohammad Nabi, 8 Sunil Narine, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Varun Chakravarthy
Punjab Kings: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Mayank Agarwal (capt), 3 Bhanuka Rajapaksa (wk), 4 Liam Livingstone, 5 Raj Bawa, 6 M Shahrukh Khan, 7 Odean Smith, 8 Harpreet Brar, 9 Arshdeep Singh, 10 Kagiso Rabada, 11 Rahul Chahar
Smith missed his lengths at the death on IPL debut, but there is a case for Kings to give him another go during this phase and hold him back for Russell. Smith has bowled 13 balls to Russell in T20 cricket, keeping him to a mere eight runs
while getting him out twice in three innings.