To say that Kolkata Knight Riders have been dependent on Andre Russell so far in the 2019 season of Indian Premier League would be an understatement. The in-form Jamaican has scored six 40-plus scores for the side, has a strike rate of 212.67 and an average of 100.66 in the tournament. If that was not all, the Windies allrounder has turned certain defeats for his side into victories on quite a few occasions this season.
But as KKR face off against the defending champions Chennai Super Kings on Sunday, they are likely to be without their main man. The allrounder aggravated his wrist injury during the match against Delhi Capitals on Friday and was seen limping off the field. KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik, at the post-match presentation, said: “He has a bit of an issue. He braved that and still went on to play this game. He is always a special cricketer. We will take a call day after.”
The previous two defeats have exposed a chink in strong KKR’s armour – their overdependency on Russell. Once CSK and DC were able to restrict the batsman, they were able to restrict KKR to a less-than-competitive total. For KKR, it is likely to be a big test to beat CSK, if Russell is declared unfit to play.
Pressures on DK
The pressure will certainly be on KKR skipper Karthik, who has not been among the runs this season. The right-handed batsman was the leading run scorer for the franchise in IPL 2018, but is averaging 15.33 this season after first seven games. With the match being played a day before the announcement of India’s World Cup squad, the wicketkeeper-batsman would be eager to get runs on the board and take his side to a win to put his name in the hat for the squad selection.
CSK skipper MS Dhoni came under criticism and controversy for stepping out on the field and arguing with the umpires over a no-ball controversy in the previous game. The side would look to move beyond the clouds of controversy and focus on the game.
CSK handed KKR a 7-wicket defeat earlier this win with the spinners strangling the opposition’s strong batting line-up. But on a Kolkata pitch that has not helped spin bowling this season, Dhoni would have to depend more on his fast bowlers, which might throw a curveball for the defending champions.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (c/wk), Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Nikhil Naik, Joe Denly, Shrikant Mundhe, Nitish Rana, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Harry Gurney, Matt Kelly, KC Cariappa and Yarra Prithviraj
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (c/wk), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Murali Vijay, Kedar Jadhav, Sam Billings, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhruv Shorey, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Rituraj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Santner, Shardul Thakur, Mohit Sharma, KM Asif, Deepak Chahar, N Jagadeesan, Scott Kuggeleijn.