Eden Gardens’ loyalty to Kolkata Knight Riders will be tested when the franchise host Delhi Capitals on Friday with the Prince of Kolkata, Sourav Ganguly returning home. The former India captain is an advisor of DC this season, a role which has already led to a conflict of interest allegations, considering he is also the president of Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB).
But Ganguly has refuted the allegations of KKR CEO Venky Mysore has also denied that they have any issues with Ganguly’s “dual role”. With DC boasting of quality seamers, a few insiders at CAB have claimed that Ganguly may have a ‘say’ in the pitch which could assist pacers. “You will know about the nature of the wicket on the day of the match. Whatever it is, whichever team plays well will win, it’s simple,” he said at a press conference when questioned about the same.
The home crowd is expected to be partially divided, with a large number of people likely to shift loyalties in favour of Ganguly’s team, which could give visitors an unexpected edge.
Rabada vs Russell
The last time Delhi faced Kolkata in IPL, it ended in a Super Over where seamer Kagiso Rabada castled KKR’s Andre Russell with a seaming yorker to take his side to a win. Russell, who has been in red hot form this season, would be eager to return the favour and exact revenge for the defeat.
The Jamaican has smashed 257 runs from five innings, out of which 150 have come in sixes alone in the tournament. He has maintained an average of 128.50 with a strike rate of 212.39. If the numbers do not speak for themselves, the Windies allrounder has proven to be the match winner for his side in almost every game they have won. Hoping to continue his form against DC, Russell would be eager to counter Rabada this time around, who would again look to target him with yorkers.
Russell vs spin
In KKR’s previous game, Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni kept Russell on the leash with slow bowlers. The match has exposed a chink in his armour – he struggles against spinners. Fellow teammate Kuldeep Chahal also attested to the fact that the Windies cricketer will be tested against spin bowlers.
Delhi might look to employ a similar strategy and strangle Russell with the spin trio of Amit Mishra, Sandeep Lamichhane and Axar Patel. If the strategy worked, other KKR batsmen, including Robin Uthappa and Nitish Rana would have to step up.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (capt), 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, KC Cariappa and Yarra Prithviraj
Delhi Capitals: Shreyas Iyer(capt), Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant(wk), Colin Ingram, Keemo Paul, Axar Patel, Rahul Tewatia, Amit Mishra, Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Hanuma Vihari, Ankush Bains, Harshal Patel, Manjot Kalra, Chris Morris, Sherfane Rutherford, Jalaj Saxena, Sandeep Lamichhane, Trent Boult, Avesh Khan, Nathu Singh, Bandaru Ayyappa, Colin Munro.
(With inputs from PTI)