Sunday, Oct 26, 2014

IPL 7 preview: KKR’s lucky ‘7’

KKR will battle it out with KXIP in their play-off clash at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Tuesday. (Source: IPL/BCCI) The performances of Yusuf Pathan and Robin Uthappa have lifted the morale of Kolkata Knight Riders, who would look to seal a victory against Kings XI Punjab in the first play-off of this season. (Source: IPL/BCCI)
Written by Ankit Sinha | New Delhi | Posted: May 27, 2014 2:54 pm | Updated: May 27, 2014 5:11 pm

At the start of the IPL 7 in UAE, a star-studded Kolkata Knight Riders, which boasted of big names like Morne Morkel, Jacques Kallis and Sunil Narine, were expected to be one of the major contenders for the title. They found fairway early in their campaign with a win against defending champions Mumbai Indians, but soon hit the rough, losing three of their next five matches.

However, the team witnessed a major turn-around in their fortunes, winning seven successive matches after their infamous slip-up against Rajasthan Royals in Ahmedabad – a game which saw the 43-year old Pravin Tambe taking a stunning hat-trick in two balls, and Kolkata Knight Riders losing six wickets for two runs.

Hardly anybody would have hoped for Kolkata Knight Riders reaching the playoffs after their disastrous batting collapse against Rajasthan Royals, but no later, the team scripted an unprecedented twist in the tale – one which would have given Hitchcock a run for his money.

After an indifferent start, winning seven games on the trot is no easy feat for any team. Therefore, it would be meaningless to regard KKR’s meteoric surge as a fluke. Whether it was their captain Gautam Gambhir, who became a focus of the Twitterati after his hat-trick of ducks, or the failure of Jacques Kallis to live up to his grandiose reputation, Kolkata Knight Riders had endured several turbulent phases that had constrained their title hopes.

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Strength check

Yusuf Pathan: The 31-year-old all-rounder from Baroda has borne witness to several ups and downs in his cricketing career, and Saturday’s match against Sunrisers Hyderabad will be remembered as one of his finest performances as a batsman. Over the years, the out-of-favour India player has developed a reputation as a burly pinch-hitter in the shortest format of the game.

Having featured in all seven editions of the IPL, Yusuf has played 104 matches, scoring 2032 runs at an average of 26.74. On Saturday, he added another feather to his cap, scoring the fastest fifty in IPL history, bettering Adam Gilchrist by a slight margin.

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Robin Uthappa: In the age of T20 cricket, where batting techniques are constantly re-invented, very few batsmen have stood out and succeeded without tampering with the classical approach. Robin Uthappa is one such name in this list of exceptions.

The 28-year-old Karnataka batsman has tasted immense success in the ongoing IPL season without compromising his technique. His batting ethos are still firmly rooted in technical finesse, with a wide array of shots to choose from. The ‘Dilscoop’ or the ‘switch-hit’ continued…

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