KKR and Punjab Kings in crucial battle to stay afloat

KOLKATA: Keep winning. That’s the least Kolkata Knight Riders need to do to stay in the hunt for an IPL playoff berth this season. And going by the way they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Sunrisers Hyderabad in their last match, the Nitish Rana-led side can continue hoping against hope. But just hope will not guarantee them wins. For that they will need to improve in all departments of the game in their last four matches, three of which they will get to play at home.
The purple brigade should fancy their chances against an inconsistent Punjab Kings when they face them at the Eden Gardens here on Monday. The hosts should be boosted by the fact that they have won eight of the 11 matches that the two sides had played against each other at this iconic venue. However, the intent should be the same in both camps as one wrong step can find them making an unceremonious exit from the competition.
Punjab, with 10 points, might have their nose slightly ahead, enjoying a two-point lead over their Monday’s rivals who are on 8, but they still need to get their act right in order to stay in the reckoning. Their batting coach Wasim Jaffer harped on staying in the present. “You cannot start thinking of all the upcoming matches. It’s important to take one match at a time in this situation,” he said.
There was little to separate the sides in their last encounter a month back when Punjab romped home by seven runs by the D/L method in a rain-interrupted match.


As a matter of fact, both the sides have blown hot and cold this season, not taking enough lessons from their mistakes. The KKR for example continue to struggle in the powerplay with the team management trying out different opening pairs even after 10 matches this season.

KKR vs PBKS, IPL 2023: Focus on Sunil Narine as Kolkata Knight Riders face Punjab Kings at home

The wait for the team’s key men Andre Russell and Sunil Narine to come good is getting prolonged and the team management’s undented confidence in their West Indian duo has started to affect the balance of the side now. With no place to play their foreign pacers Lockie Feguson or Tim Southee and Umesh Yadav being injured, the lack of experience in KKR pace attack has been badly exposed.
The team’s over dependence on spin is ma king it a lopsided attack. KKR did get their odd heroes in Rinku Singh and Varun Chakravarthy in some matches, but none has really emerged as a consistent performer this season.
Punjab’s campaign too has depended much on skipper Shikhar Dhawan and young pacer Arshdeep Singh. It will be difficult for KKR if Dhawan sets the platform on Monday. Wicketkeeper-batter Jitesh Sharma has stood out with his batting this season and Liam Livingstone getting into runs is a good sign for the Punjab outfit.
The team would have learnt a lesson from failing to defend a 200 plus score against Mumbai Indians in the last match. With Kagiso Rabada not looking menacing, coach Trevor Bayliss will look for more meaningful contributions from Sam Curran and Nathan Ellis.


IPL 2023: Focus on Sunil Narine’s place as KKR face PBKS at home

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Watch IPL 2023: Kolkata Knight Riders take on Punjab Kings at home

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