Abu Dhabi: Skipper Dinesh Karthik's tactical nous will once again be put to test when Kolkata Knight Riders take on a depleted Sunrisers Hyderabad in their second IPL fixture in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
Much was expected from a revamped Kolkata Knight Riders set-up but it seemed Karthik did not learn from his past mistakes and made some inexplicable decisions that led to their complete capitulation against Mumbai Indians.
Once again, the batting position of their biggest hitter Andre Russell became the talking point in their 49-run loss to Mumbai Indians.
The Jamaican, who was their highest run-getter last season with 510 runs from 249 deliveries and the tournament’s highest strike rate of 204.81, was seen at No 6 but by then the task had become extremely difficult.
World Cup winning captain Eoin Morgan, who was roped in to bolster the wobbly middle order, also could not do much as the asking rate had shot past 13 by the time he came to bat at No 5.
In bowling too, there was a tactical blunder by holding back their ace spinner Sunil Narine till the last over of power play.
On a day, their biggest buy Pat Cummins failed miserably, Narine was given a go only when his IPL ''bunny'' Rohit Sharma was well set.
It really defied logic to see such a defensive strategy by a team now coached by Kiwi great Brendon McCullum, who is known for his aggressive mindset.
Known to put up a balanced side on the park, Hyderabad lacked strength and experience in their middle-order, failing miserably against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Needing just 43 runs from last five overs, SRH lost their last seven wickets for 32 runs to lose the game by 10 runs.
If that was not enough, injury to their all-rounder Mitchell Marsh has compounded their misery.
Skipper David Warner, after being run out in an unfortunate manner at the non-striker's end, will be keen to get into the act, while it remains to be seen whether Kane Williamson has recovered from his injury to bolster the batting department.
SRH bowling has always been impressive and it seems the think tank may bring in Mohammed Nabi to bowl alongside his fellow mate Rashid Khan while Bhuvneshwar Kumar will spearhead the pace attack. Squads:
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (captain & wicketkeeper), Andre Russell, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, Siddhesh Lad, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Eoin Morgan, Varun Chakravarthy, Tom Banton (Wicketkeeper), Rahul Tripathi, Chris Green, M Siddharth, Nikhil Naik (Wicketkeeper), Ali Khan.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner (Captain), Jonny Bairstow (Wicketkeeper), Kane Williamson, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Manish Pandey, Virat Singh, Shahbaz Nadeem, Mitchell Marsh, Fabian Allen, Vijay Shankar, Sanjay Yadav, Wriddhiman Saha (Wicketkeeper), Shreevats Goswami (Wicketkeeper), Bavanaka Sandeep, Basil Thampi, Priyam Garg, Abdul Samad, Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, Siddarth Kaul, Billy Stanlake, T Natarajan, Abhishek Sharma.
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The 37-year-old former South Africa skipper is in the UAE to represent his Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the remainder of the 14th edition of the lucrative league.
Malinga, one of the most decorated limited-overs bowlers of all time, announced his decision a little over a month before the ICC T20 World Cup in UAE, for which he was overlooked.
Malinga played in 83 T20Is for Sri Lanka in which he picked up 107 wickets, his best being 5 for 6. He also represented Mumbai Indians in Indian Premier League (IPL) for 122 times and helped the team win trophies.