With the business end of the tournament upon us, both KKR and GL will want to register wins © AFP
With the business end of the tournament upon us, both KKR and GL will want to register wins © AFP

As the tournament starts getting deeper and intensified, so does the gameplay and mental strategies, as former champions and hosts Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) take on new franchise and visitors Gujarat Lions (GL), in Match 38 of the ongoing cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016, at the historic Eden Gardens Stadium in Kolkata on Sunday. As KKR still manages to sit atop the points table, they would look to extend their lead, while GL, who too are in the top phase of the table, would look to rise above, with an eye on the top spot as well, as it’s the clash of the top tier teams. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Kolkata Knight Riders vs Gujarat Lions, IPL 2016, Match 38 at Kolkata

KKR, who are recently coming off a close win over Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) by seven runs, would be riding high on confidence, as they have had a decent season so far, winning almost most of the games, and managing to lose just three, as hey aim to keep continuing their winning momentum forward. GL, on the other hand, are coming off a losing performance, as they lost their previous game of Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) by five wickets, and would look top brush it aside, as well as come up with a fresh and decent performance against the former champions, and continue with the manner of the winning start, they had earlier given in the tournament.

Considering their performance in the previous game, both the teams had indeed produced some strength and weaknesses. As for KKR, the batting department again saw the openers in the form of Robin Uthappa and skipper Gautam Gambhir firing with the bat, scoring 70 and 54, respectively, and also involving in a 101-run opening stand, thus allowing themselves to continue to act as the undisputed pillar of the KKR’s batting line-up. As for their bowling, it was the West Indian all-rounder Andre Russell, who claimed four wickets, especially in the death overs to allow KKR to steer towards the all-important win. Jacques Kallis: KKR eyeing play offs berth in IPL 2016

As for GL, they have had a dreadful performance in the previous tie against SRH, as they couldn’t perform up to the mark, both with the bat and the ball. As for their batting, none of the batsmen were able to contribute decently, except for the Australian Aaron Finch, who scored an important knock of 51, thus allowing GL to steer past the 100-run mark and finish on an average total of 126. As for their bowling, it was again a weak performance, as a couple of bowlers in the form of Dhawal Kulkarni and Dwayne Bravo, just claiming a couple of wickets each.

Thus, going by the performance in the previous tie, there are changes to happen most likely for either side. Although KKR could opt out of any such changes, thanks to their winning performance in the previous tie, a change in the form of Brad Hogg or Umesh Yadav could be quite possible, as they could well be replaced by Sunil Narine or Jaydev Unadkat. As for GL, changes are very likely, as the batting line-up is likely to remain untouched and unchanged. However, for the bowling, Pradeep Sangwan could well be replaced by Amit Mishra. Also, Praveen Kuamr could make his way out for Pravin Tambe or Sarabjit Ladda, in order to bolster their spin attack. IPL 2016: KKR not taking any game for granted, says Gautam Gambhir

With the game being held at Eden Gardens, the track is likely to stay on the slower side, and the teams would definitely like to have a strong bowling unit, especially the spin department. With KKR, having tons of spinners in their side, are likely to dominate this game. However, GL too have good some real good spinners in their side, and could turn the tide against KKR in no time, as so could their batting unit. Overall, and exciting and thriller on the cards; however, with the capacity crowd in favour of KKR, along with the presence of their principal owner Shahrukh Khan, the vocal effect would certainly pump KKR to do better in the game.

Squads:

Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (c), Kuldeep Yadav, Manish Pandey, Piyush Chawla, Robin Uthappa (wk), Sheldon Jackson, Suryakumar Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Yusuf Pathan, Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Brad Hogg, Chris Lynn, Morne Morkel, Shakib Al Hasan. Jaydev Unadkat, Ankit Singh Rajpoot, John Hastings, Jason Holder, Colin Munro, Rajgopal Sathish, Manan Ajay Sharma.

Gujarat Lions: Suresh Raina (c), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, James Faulkner, Brendon McCullum, Praveen Kumar, Dale Steyn, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Dwayne Smith, Dhawal Kulkarni, Aaron Finch, Eklavya Dwivedi, Andrew Tye, Ishan Kishan, Jaydev Shah, Shadab Jakati, Pravin Tambe, Pradeep Sangwan, Amit Mishra, Shivil Kaushik, Aksh Deep Nath, Sarabjeet Ladda, Umang Sharma, Paras Dogra.

Time: 20:00 IST | 14:30 GMT

(Ayush Gupta is a reporter at CricketCountry. A passionate supporter of Manchester United, he idolises Roger Federer and is also a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) maniac. He can be followed on Twitter @Ayush24x7)