Midway into the Indian Premier League, and tonight we are set for another cracker of a match. A rejuvenated Rising Pune Supergiant will take on the formidable Kolkata Knight Riders at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium in Pune.
Pune comes into the match after having notched up 3 wins on the trot and are currently placed 4th in the standings. On the other hand, confidence will be sky high in the KKR camp as well, after their demolishing win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in their last match. Thus this match is all set to be an exciting one between two in form teams.
In their last match, Rising Pune Supergiant eked out a three-run victory over Mumbai Indians in a thrilling encounter, thanks to some effective bowling by Ben Stokes and Jaydev Unadkat at the death. Opener Rahul Tripathi’s batting has also boosted their campaign. The 26-year-old from Maharashtra came up with scores of 31, 59 and 45 in the last three matches.
Former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni too showed his vintage form with a sparkling 61 not out against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH). Skipper Steve Smith and Ajinkya Rahane have also contributed from time to time and Manoj Tiwary has also played a few useful cameos. In the bowling department, spinner Imran Tahir has taken 10 wickets so far to emerge as the team’s best bowler, while Stokes and Unadkat snapped six and five wickets respectively so far.
Kolkata, on the other hand, have been pretty consistent this season and are placed second in the points table with two losses and five wins in seven matches. Skipper Gautam Gambhir led from the front with two half centuries in the initial phase and when he failed to contribute, Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey have stepped up to do the bulk of scoring. In fact, Yusuf Pathan also produced a 39-ball 59 against Delhi Daredevils to rescue his team once. Surprisingly, even mystery spinner Sunil Narine has contributed with some exciting cameos at the top of the order. So overall, KKR boasts of a formidable batting line-up.
During their last outing however, it was the KKR bowlers who produced a fantastic show to bundle out Royal Challengers Bangalore for 49 – the lowest score in IPL’s history. Chris Woakes has taken 10 wickets in the seven matches that he has played, while Nathan Coulter-Nile has scalped eight after featuring in only three games for Kolkata. Umesh Yadav too has seven wickets from five outings. Among the spinners, slow left-arm chinaman Kuldeep Yadav has taken six wickets in as many matches for KKR.
IPL 10 is coming towards the business end, and the teams which look good are beginning to distance themselves from the latter four. Both Rising Pune Supergiant and Kolkata Knight Riders look like two teams than can be backed to move forward.
Rising Pune Supergiant: Steve Smith (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicketkeeper), Ashok Dinda, Faf du Plessis, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Sharma, Baba Aparajith, Ankush Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Dan Christian, Lockie Ferguson, Imran Tahir, Jaskaran Singh, Usman Khawaja, Saurabh Kumar, Ben Stokes, Washington Sundar, Milind Tandon, Manoj Tiwary, Adam Zampa, Jaydev Unadkat, Ishwar Pandey, Rahul Tripathi, Shardul Thakur.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Darren Bravo, Trent Boult, Piyush Chawla, Nathan Coulter Nile, Colin De Grandhomme, Rishi Dhawan, Sayan Ghosh, Shaikb Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Ishank Jaggi, Kuldeep Yadav, Chris Woakes, Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Ankit Rajpoot, Suryakumar Yadav, Robin Uthappa (wicketkeeper) and Umesh Yadav.