Robin Uthappa (left) and Piyush Chawla © IANS


Robin Uthappa and Piyush Chawla are crucial for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 final, writes Nishad Pai Vaidya.


Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and the Mumbai Indians (MI) have been the most successful sides against the Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014. Punjab has lost two games to Kolkata this season and in the one they were victorious, they couldn’t put up a big score on the board. For the all-important final, Kolkata need to sustain that same intensity and get the better of a destructive batting line-up, which may have found inspiration through Virender Sehwag’s sparkling ton in the last game.


The biggest factor in Kolkata’s victories over Punjab this season has been Piyush Chawla. In three games they have played each other, he has taken a total of seven wickets. In their first encounter at Abu Dhabi, he played a crucial role to limit Punjab to around 130, although Kolkata lost the game. Then at Cuttack, his three wickets broke Punjab’s momentum when they were going well and did not let them score big. In the process, he also picked up the big wicket of Glenn Maxwell. In the qualifier, Chawla wasn’t as prolific, but had the right mix and scalped David Miller early.


Kolkata have to play Chawla, although the wicket at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium isn’t as conducive to spin as the one at Eden Gardens. With Shakib Al Hasan and Sunil Narine already in the ranks, Kolkata do have a formidable spin attack. However, with Chawla in, the attack has a different dimension. He merits a selection for this big game with what he has done against Punjab. Kolkata would do well to persist with the same side that played the Qualifier. Morne Morkel and Umesh Yadav would be the two fast bowlers and the spinners would complete the attack.


In the batting, Robin Uthappa is the key for Kolkata in this game. With so many 40 plus scores on the trot, he is the man in form and this is the biggest stage in this tournament. Uthappa would feel at home at Bangalore, given the fact that it is where he has played all his junior cricket and plays his domestic encounters. The boundaries are short and Uthappa would know this ground like the back of his hand.


Throughout the tournament, Uthappa hasn’t played attacking strokes much, but his timing has been perfect.  There have been aggressive strokes of course, but majority of them have been timed to perfection.  Uthappa would be expected to exploit the conditions at this venue and make an impact.. A good start at the top will certainly help Kolkata and Uthappa is the man for this task.


The final is a different ball game and one cannot be too sure of what can transpire. This is Punjab’s first outing in an IPL final,  but Kolkata have been in this position before and have emerged victorious.  Back then in 2012 they found an unlikely hero in Manvinder Bisla. This time, they have a bunch of players, who have all contributed throughout the season. But, the one man who will make it count today would be the real champion.


(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)