Preview: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) would look to continue their winning momentum in the Indian Premier League (IPL), but it won't be an easy task as they lock horns with Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Rising Pune Supergiants at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Sunday.
Newcomers Pune have not had a great start to the tournament and have lost three of their four games. On the other hand, KKR have won three out of four matches.
The one contest that the Knights lost was against defending champions Mumbai Indians in Kolkata where the visitors chased down KKR's formidable 187.
Kolkata have been a team who have backed up their brilliant bowling with some quality batting to steer home on the other three occasions, which include wins over Delhi Daredevils, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab.
The Supergiants have only clinched the opening tie against Mumbai Indians, but then succumbed to the Gujarat Lions, Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
But on Sunday, Dhoni will be keen on having a turnaround in his fortunes. The injury to star batsman Kevin Pietersen may have come as a blessing in disguise for the hosts as they can now field all-rounders like Albie Morkel and Mitchell Marsh.
"We're playing with six bowlers, yet our death bowling isn't great," Dhoni said after the game against RCB. "Maybe we can look to bring in Albie Morkel or Mitch Marsh in the next game. We need to strengthen our bowling line-up a bit."
The Knights on the contrary look a settled bunch and it is unlikely that skipper Gautam Gambhir will tinker too much with the winning line-up.
The bowling has been led well by the spinners and the likes of pacers Umesh Yadav and Morne Morkel have chipped in well too.
The top-order has also clicked for KKR with Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa scoring a truck load of runs. They have been ably supported by Manish Pandey at No.3.
However, Pune are a dangerous side with some fine batters and great all-rounders and if the likes of Faf du Plessis, Steve Smith, Thisara Perera and Dhoni have a good day on the field then things are going to get tough for the two time champions.
The wicket is likely to be flat and the match is supposed to be a high-scoring one and that is where KKR's experience in the bowling line-up will be tested.
Rising Pune Supergiants:
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Kevin Pietersen, Faf du Plessis, Steve Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Jaskaran Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ankit Sharma, Albie Morkel, Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, Thisara Perera, Saurabh Tiwary, R.P. Singh, Rajat Bhatia, Ankush Bains, Baba Aparajith, Murugan Ashwin, Ashok Dinda, Deepak Chahar, Scott Boland, Peter Handscomb, Adam Zampa.
Kolkata Knight Riders:
Gautam Gambhir (captain), Kuldeep Yadav, Manish Pandey, Piyush Chawla, Robin Uthappa, 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, Jason Holder, Colin Munro, Rajgopal Sathish, Manan Ajay Sharma.