Kolkata Knight Riders have never reached the semifinals of the IPL. If they beat Pune Warriors at the DY Patil stadium on Thursday, Gautam Gambhir’s men could fancy their chances of a top-two finish after the league phase. However, if they lose, combined by some other unfavourable results, they may not finish even third or fourth and qualify for the virtual quarterfinal.
The play-off format of the IPL has ensured that teams who finish third and fourth have to win three games in a row for the title while teams who finish in the top-two can afford to lose the first play-off game. Pune have nothing at stake, but they can surely destroy someone’s dream. And there is no denying that dream-crushing comes with its own sweet pleasure.
Kolkata must thank their luck for playing this match ‘away’. With Sourav Ganguly playing for Pune, if this match was scheduled at the Eden Gardens, that wouldn’t have been a home match for KKR.
Dada may insist that this is just another game and he has no hard feelings for the KKR team management. However, this remains a golden opportunity for him to play spoilsport against the thinkers who snubbed him.
Interestingly, if Pune beat KKR, their captain Yuvraj Singh could be doing a huge favour to his former team Kings XI Punjab. If KKR lose, they remain on 14 points and it gives another lifeline for Kings, who are also on 14 points with just one match remaining in their kitty. And KKR play harder opponents in Mumbai in the last match than Kings’ rivals in Deccan.
Pune have found ways to lose in different ways in their inaugural season. Though they are an unpredictable team suited for T20 format, there is no doubt that KKR should start the game as the overwhelming favourites.