Plagued by inconsistency throughout this season, Kolkata Knight Riders have their task cut out as they take on a strong and confident Delhi Daredevils in their return leg Indian Premier League encounter on Wednesday.
Having slipped to the sixth place in the IPL tree after Rajasthan Royals’ stunning two-run victory over Deccan Chargers last night, the Knight Riders now face a win-or-perish situation in their semifinal aspiration.
In contrast, the Delhi outfit, second behind leaders Mumbai Indians, have no such worry as four consecutive wins have virtually assured them a place in the semifinals.
For the local side, it has been a story of one step forward and two steps backward. Their loss to bottom-placed Kings XI Punjab at home jeopardised their semifinal aspirations and skipper Sourav Ganguly will have an unenviable task to lift the team morale ahead of tomorrow’s match.
With five more matches to go, Knights cannot afford to lose at the moment and it will be interesting to see how the side coped up with the situation with the big challenges lying ahead.
The KKR think-tank is struggling to find the right combination of the side and stumper Wriddhiman Saha — nursing a sore left thumb — is not a certainty for tomorrow’s match.
If their batting clicked with the hard-hitting opener Chris Gayle firing on all cylinders against Kings XI, their bowlers let the team down after failing to defend a challenging 200.
Ganguly’s surprised selection Jaydev Unadkat ahead of experienced Ishant Sharma did not click as the rookie left-arm pacer bled boundaries while the likes of Angelo Mathews, Murali Kartik and Ajit Agarkar too conceded 10-plus an over to see Knights go down.
Ishant, however, is expected to play tomorrow.
With Gayle coming to full force, Ganguly must be a relieved man but there would be a different kind of dilemma for the skipper who will have some tricky time picking the side.
Ganguly rested New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum in their last match but in-form opener is likely to be picked in their must-win match against the Delhi outfit that will put the team think-tank in a difficult situation.
Gayle in explosive form means that Ganguly may have to drop middle order batsman David Hussey, who too is in good knick. Ganguly also may take risk of omitting medium-pace all-rounder Angelo Mathews or strike bowler Shane Bond.