Lucknow Super Giants and Kolkata Knight Riders are two teams on opposite ends of the points table
. Super Giants are currently second with 14 points from ten games. One more win and they will be within touching distance of the playoffs.
Knight Riders are placed eighth with four wins from ten games. If they lose on Saturday, they will be all but out of the race.
In Super Giants’ last two games, they replaced a struggling Manish Pandey with a bowler. That gave Deepak Hooda a chance to bat at No. 3, where he notched up scores of 34 off 28 and 52 off 34.
But with their middle order still underperforming, playing one batter fewer could also backfire, as it almost did against Punjab Kings
before Dushmantha Chameera and Mohsin Khan rescued them with some lusty blows towards the end.
Their bowling attack, though, is without any holes
. They have the pace of Chameera, the left-arm angle of Mohsin, and the death-bowling skills of Avesh Khan and Jason Holder. When it comes to spin, Ravi Bishnoi’s fast legbreaks, sliders and googlies are there, as is an upgraded version of Krunal Pandya’s left-arm spin. While their batting has largely revolved around KL Rahul, six of their bowlers have picked up eight or more wickets in the tournament.
Knight Riders put an end to their five-match losing streak with a seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals, but there is no end to their problems. Their openers haven’t fired. Their bowlers, with the exception of Sunil Narine, have had mixed returns. They have even dropped two of their retained players, Venkatesh Iyer and Varun Chakravarthy.
However, if their bowlers can dismiss Rahul and Quinton de Kock early, they can surprise Super Giants, as a lot of other match-ups are in their favour.
Avesh didn’t play Super Giants’ last match as he had just recovered from a “small injury” and the franchise didn’t want him to play back-to-back games. But after a further gap of six days, he should be back in the XI on Saturday. If so, K Gowtham will have to miss out.
Lucknow Super Giants: 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 KL Rahul (capt), 3 Deepak Hooda, 4 Marcus Stoinis, 5 Krunal Pandya, 6 Ayush Badoni, 7 Jason Holder, 8 Avesh Khan/K Gowtham, 9 Mohsin Khan, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 11 Ravi Bishnoi
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 B Indrajith (wk), 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Shreyas Iyer (capt), 4 Nitish Rana, 5 Rinku Singh, 6 Andre Russell, 7 Anukul Roy, 8 Sunil Narine, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Shivam Mavi
The real bogeyman for Stoinis, though, has been
Russell. He has got Stoinis out three times in 19 balls while conceding only 12 runs. Jason Holder too has struggled
against him, getting out four times in 18 balls for 21 runs. For Hooda
, it’s one dismissal in ten balls for just four runs. The only Super Giants middle-order batter
with a favourable match-up against Russell is Pandya, who has hit him for 32 runs off 22 balls for one dismissal.
In each of the ten games in Pune, captains have opted to bowl after winning the toss. However, their teams won only three of those games.
So far, Knight Riders have tried five opening pairs, the most by any team in the competition, and their average opening stand of 14.40 is the worst in the tournament.