Kolkata: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will look to get back to the winning ways when they take on in-form Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in an Indian Premier League (IPL) game at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Saturday.
In their last outing, the Dinesh Karthik-led KKR lost to Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on the road by five wickets in a thrilling encounter.
Despite posting 202/6 riding on West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell's unbeaten 36-ball 88, KKR found it hard to stop CSK from the start as Shane Watson set up the chase with a belligerent 19-ball 42. Later, England's Sam Billings guided MS Dhoni's team to victory with a 23-ball 56.
KKR's R Vinay Kumar had a forgettable outing as the Karnataka pacer started proceedings by conceding 16 runs in the first over and then failed to defend 17 runs in the last over.
KKR erred in the field as well with vice-captain Robin Uthappa dropping Billings when he was on nine and Tom Curran grassing Suresh Raina's catch.
"We went for too many runs in the powerplay, it became really tough to pull back. In the end, it's tough when the teams have got wickets in hand," KKR bowling coach Heath Streak told reporters on Thursday.
"We had a couple of costly dropped catches, we dropped (Sam) Billings on nine, and he played superbly, played some really good shots, also we didn't bowl our best to him. It was a tough performance, and we got to learn from those mistakes and make sure the next game here we come back," Streak added.
The former Zimbabwe skipper also hinted that Australian seamer Mitchell Johnson could return after being rested in the last game due to a niggle. There are chances that Vinay Kumar could be dropped for his poor outings in the first couple of games.
In such a case, Under-19 World Cup winning stars Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi could get a look in.
Little-known Rinku Singh could also face the axe after failing to repay the trust shown on him in the first two games. Highly rated U-19 World Cup winning batsman Shubman Gill, in that scenario, might make his IPL debut.
Russell's explosive form with the bat and mystery spinner Sunil Narine's economical bowling are the gains from the CSK game for the Men in Purple.
But in SRH, they will have an opponent that have made it two wins in as many matches with a thrilling one-wicket victory over defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) on Thursday.
The win took them to the top of the standings as they have a better run rate than CSK, who too have four points.
Having restricted MI to 147/8, SRH made heavy weather of a achievable target but in the end rode Deepak Hooda's unbeaten 25-ball 32 to get past the line.
It was a nail-biting end as Billy Stanlake scored the winning run off the last ball.
Needing 11 off the final over, bowled by Ben Cutting, Hooda started with a huge six over the long-off which was followed by a wide ball.
SRH seemed to be in control as they needed four off the final five balls, but they could manage just four off the next four deliveries.
It was down to Stanlake then and the Aussie pacer held his nerves to loft a slower delivery over mid-wicket to seal the game for the hosts.
SRH's strength lies in their bowling which has a lot of variety. Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, who bowled 18 dot balls against MI, is a prime example.
Besides Rashid, the likes of Stanlake, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shakib Al Hasan and Sandeep Sharma provide a lot of options. Bhuvneshwar did not play against MI due to back pain and it remains to be seen whether India's premier fast bowler starts against KKR or not.
If Bhuvi is not playing, it will be a boost for the home team.
SRH also have a few former KKR players in their ranks like Manish Pandey, local boy Wriddhiman Saha, Yusuf Pathan and Shakib to help them get extra information about their rivals.
KKR and SRH have met 12 times in total with the former leading the head-to-head tally 8-4.
SRH: Kane Williamson (C), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Manish Pandey, Rashid Khan, Shikhar Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Sandeep Sharma, Shakib Al Hasan, Carlos Brathwaite, Yusuf Pathan, Mohammad Nabi Eisakhil, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Billy Stanlake, Siddharth Kaul, Deepak Hooda, Syed Khaleel Ahmed, Shreevats Goswami, Basil Thampi, T Natarajan, Bipul Sharma, Mehdi Hasan, Ricky Bhui, Sachin Baby, Tanmay Agarwal.
KKR: Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Dinesh Karthik (C and WK), Robin Uthappa, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Nitish Rana, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Mitchell Johnson, Shubman Gill, Vinay Kumar, Rinku Singh, Cameron Delport, Javon Searless, Apoorv Wankhade, Ishank Jaggi, Tom Curran.