© IANS (File Photo)
Robin Uthappa (L) and Gautam Gambhir (R) continue to be a threat at the top of the order © IANS (File Photo)

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have been one of the few undefeated sides of this year’s Champions League T20 (CLT20), having beaten Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Lahore Lions in their first two games. Meanwhile, Perth Scorchers won an absolute thriller off the final delivery against the Dolphins. Shiamak Unwalla looks at some key battles that could determine who emerges victorious in this encounter.

Mitchell Marsh vs Sunil Narine: Mitchell Marsh has shown in a propensity to bat in first gear for the initial part of his innings before suddenly shift directly to fifth toward the latter part of the innings. Gautam Gambhir likes to use Sunil Narine during the latter stages, and should the two come up against each other it will be interesting to see which one emerges unscathed.



Brad Hogg vs Kuldeep Yadav: The battle of the Chinamen! Hogg is a seasoned pro, and has been by and large the only consistently successful Chinaman over the last couple of decades. Hardly any batsmen in the world have picked Hogg’s googlies, and if Kuldeep’s debut was anything to go by, he is as likely to mystify batsmen.

These two may not face each other — their teams would certainly hope it doesn’t come to either of them having to bat — but it will be one of the few times in recent memory in which two Chinamen will play on opposing sides of the same game. The 43-year-old would love to show a thing or two to the 19-year-old, and that off-the-field battle ought to push them both into delivering a strong performance.

Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa vs Joel Paris, Jason Behrendorff: Joel Paris got the Scorchers off to a tremendous start when he cleaned up Morne van Wyk and Cody Chetty off successive balls in the very first over of the match against Dolphins. Jason Behrendorff picked up a wicket in the very next over, and the Dolphins never quite recovered enough to launch an all-out assault, finally finishing at a reasonable 164. That the Scorchers only got there in the final over was their own fault for not upping the scoring rate earlier.

On the other hand, Uthappa — who had missed out the first game due to a minor injury, and Gambhir were back to doing what they do best at the top of the order. They put on exactly 100 for the opening wicket against Lahore. Gambhir made 60 while Uthappa was dismissed for 46. The opening pair was perhaps the main reason for KKR making it to the IPL final, and continue to be a threat at the top of the order.

Craig Simmons vs Pat Cummins: Simmons is an aggressive stroke-player, and made a valuable 48 in the last game against Dolphins. He had scored two centuries in three games during the latter stages of the Big Bash League, and would dearly love to continue that form. Pat Cummins was expensive in each of the last two games. He has taken a solitary wicket in CLT20 2014, but the talent he possesses is there for all to see. He will be hoping to knock over Simmons early and get KKR off to a better start than he has been able to so far.

Complete coverage of Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014 here

(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with CricketCountry. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)