Dinesh Karthik (L) and Gautam Gambhir © AFP
Dinesh Karthik (L) and Gautam Gambhir © AFP

In match 13 of VIVO IPL 2018, Kolkata Knight Riders  (KKR) host Delhi Daredevils at Eden Gardens, Kolkata. After an emphatic victory to start their campaign, Dinesh Karthik-led KKR have lost two matches in a row. Their last defeat, first versus Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) at Eden, was a result of their poor changes in the batting lineup. It will be interesting to see how they cope up from it, and deliver this time around. On the other hand, DD lost two games on trot to revamp with a last-ball win versus Mumbai Indians (MI) at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. Gautam Gambhir and co. will be eager to ride on the momentum, and inflict another defeat on hosts. Also, this is the Gambhir’s homecoming at his previous IPL home ground. Expect fireworks!

DD weren’t thrashed comprehensively in their first two matches. They had their moments before going down. As a result, they didn’t make wholesome changes in their clash versus MI. Their bowlers, after conceding 84 in the powerplay overs, bounced back to restrict the opposition below 200. Mohammed Shami, Trent Boult and Rahul Tewatia were impressive in particular. In the batting front, Gambhir can play freely with in-form Jason Roy at the other end. Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer, Glenn Maxwell and Vijay Shankar will add to their strength down the order. Boult, in particular, would enjoy bowling at Eden turf.

Talking about KKR, they have to find the right mix in the batting order. Too many changes have led to their ouster form the top four. Their batting revolves around Robin Uthappa and Karthik, and they need others to play around. Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine should open and look to add maximum runs in the powerplays. Robin should anchor the innings, and Andre Russell and Karthik can provide the late impetus. KKR shouldn’t tinker too much going ahead. In the bowling front, they have the ever-dependable Narine along with veteran Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav. However, KKR need more from Mitchell Johnson as Russell cannot be the spearhead of the pace attack. Shivam Mavi should ideally get another game.

KKR need to be smart with their team combination than making too many changes.

Note: If KKR want to play the U-19 stars, kindly make full use of their potential by giving them more exposure in the middle.

Likely XIs

Kolkata Knight Riders

Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Nitish Rana, Robin Uthappa, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik (wk & c), Andre Russell, Mitchell Johnson, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Shivam Mavi

Delhi Daredevils

Gautam Gambhir (c), Jason Roy, Rishabh Pant (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Glenn Maxwell, Vijay Shankar, Liam Plunkett, Rahul Tewatia, Shahbaz Nadeem/Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Trent Boult

Predictions

In overall encounters, KKR hold certain edge over DD. Both sides have squared off in 19 matches with KKR winning in 12. They have a 63.15 per cent win record versus DD. Many would believe they KKR would learn from their recent flaws, and make amends. However, Gambhir is RETURNING TO EDEN GARDENS as captain of the opposition franchise. He is well aware of the conditions, and would work around his team combination accordingly. Expect a mouth-watering intense battle.