IPL 2023: Time for tough calls as KKR face stiff test in do-or-die game against Punjab – The Indian Express

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Punjab Kings (PBKS) started their IPL 2023 campaign when they met each other in the first week of April. Punjab emerged victorious in the rain-affected match, and when KKR host PBKS at the Eden Gardens on Monday, Punjab will surely come out all guns blazing, as there is still a chance for them to make it to the playoffs. KKR, who have encountered a disappointing season so far, must continue their winning run after beating SRH in their previous match away from home.
But it is this lack of consistency that has hit KKR hard. After putting together a squad with the smallest purse, the Knights have suffered due to their inconsistent performances.
The two-time champions have failed to fire in unison, especially in the top order. The inclusion of Jason Roy added a new dimension, while Afghanistan wicketkeeper Rahmanullah Gurbaz has also given the much-needed impetus. But KKR haven’t been able to play the two together because of team balance.
Despite contributing well with the ball, West Indies’ all-rounder Andre Russell has been going through a lean patch with the bat and is due for a big score. One way to improve his performance could be with KKR pushing him up the order to showcase his exploits.
KKR still have to win all their four remaining matches to remain in contention for a playoff berth. The onus would be on the batters to put together a strong performance against a bowling unit that would be low on confidence after Mumbai Indians’ onslaught in their last match.
Knight Riders’ bowling, too, needs to put up a balanced performance. While the pace department lacks a big name, much of the work has been left to their spinners. Sunil Narine, who only has seven wickets in 10 matches with an economy rate of 8.76, is struggling big time. Varun Chakravarthy has become KKR’s go-to guy with 14 wickets at 20.14.
So the question is whether KKR can still afford to play Narine or replace him before it is too late. Hence the management needs to make some tough selection calls.
Otherwise, the Purple Brigade is staring at another round-robin exit with only four wins in 10 games; there is no room for error in the next four games.
Working harder, dreaming bigger. 🦁#JazbaHaiPunjabi #SaddaPunjab #PunjabKings #TATAIPL pic.twitter.com/nwMSp0mHux
Punjab Kings (@PunjabKingsIPL) May 7, 2023
Key Matchups: Two critical encounters that will be fun to watch are Andre Russell facing up against the left-arm duo of Arshdeep Singh and Sam Curran. Another key battle will be if Liam Livingstone, who can hit big, comes up against Varun Chakravarthy.
Head-to-Head Record: 31 matches have been played between Kolkata and Punjab, with Kolkata winning on 20 occasions while Punjab emerged victorious 11 times.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Nitish Rana (c), Jason Roy, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Venkatesh Iyer, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shardul Thakur, Lockie Ferguson, Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, Harshit Rana, Varun Chakravarthy, Anukul Roy, Rinku Singh, N. Jagadeesan, Vaibhav Arora, Suyash Sharma, David Wiese, Kulwant Khejroliya, Mandeep Singh and Aarya Desai.
Punjab Kings: Shikhar Dhawan (c), Shahrukh Khan, Matthew Short, Prabhsimran Singh, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Jitesh Sharma, Gurnoor Singh Brar, Rishi Dhawan, Liam Livingstone, Atharva Taide, Arshdeep Singh, Baltej Singh, Nathan Ellis, Kagiso Rabada, Rahul Chahar, Harpreet Brar, Sam Curran, Sikandar Raza, Harpreet Bhatia, Vidwath Kaverappa, Mohit Rathee, Shivam Singh.

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