Ahmedabad: Kolkata Knight Riders' floundering batting will be put to test once again as they look to build a winning momentum against a star-studded Delhi Capitals in their Indian Premier League match in Ahmedabad on Thursday.
KKR's batting woes emanate right from the top with the highly talented Shubman Gill continuing his poor run— 89 runs from six outings.
While their bowling, especially the 'master-apprentice' spin duo of Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy, have done an excellent job in restricting the oppositions, KKR's top-order batting has hurt them the most.
Chasing an easy 124 against Punjab Kings in their last match, KKR's top-order cut a sorry figure to be at 17 for 3 inside three overs before skipper Eoin Morgan led from the front to snap their four-match losing streak.
Against a DC batting line-up boasting tournament's leading run getter Shikhar Dhawan (265 runs), Prithvi Shaw, Steve Smith and the dangerous Rishabh Pant, KKR can't afford any more slip-up if they want to continue their ascent in the IPL points table.
First-up, Morgan will have to fix the Gill conundrum. With scores of 15, 33, 21, 0, 11 and 9, the opener has failed to impress, extending his poor run of form from the England Test series.
It would not be a bad ploy to drop Gill down the order and bring back Narine to open with Rahul Tripathi, something that was suggested by the legendary Sunil Gavaskar.
The top-order reshuffle may be the way forward as the likes of Morgan, Andre Russell and Dinesh Karthik looked to have found their mojo in the middle.
Thursday's clash will see a mini-battle between the Caribbean duo of Russell and Shimron Hetmyer who will be anxious to do well after the Capitals suffered an agonising one-run defeat against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Tuesday.
Chasing 172 for a win, the Capitals were struggling at 92 for four but Hetmyer upped the ante in company of his captain and another left-hander Pant as the duo smashed explosive half-centuries but only to go down in a last-ball thriller.
Russell, too, looked in his elements when he smashed Chennai Super Kings bowlers all around the park in his 22-ball 54 but only in a losing cause. It remains to be seen who among the Caribbean duo wins the battle on Thursday.
After Ravichandran Ashwin's pulling out, the Capitals' bowling got a boost from Ishant Sharma who cleaned up the in-form Devdutt Padikkal with a peach of a delivery en route to a tidy 1/26.
KKR batting will be put to test against the likes of Ishant, Kagiso Rabada and young gun Avesh Khan, while the spin duo of Amit Mishra and Axar Patel will also look to make an impact.
The Teams (From):
Delhi Capitals: Rishabh Pant (c/w), Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Chris Woakes, Shams Mulani, Amit Mishra, Lalit Yadav, Pravin Dubey, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Ishant Sharma, Avesh Khan, Steve Smith, Umesh Yadav, Ripal Patel, Vishnu Vinod, Lukman Meriwala, M Siddarth, Tom Curran, Sam Billings and Aniruddha Joshi.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Eoin Morgan (c), Dinesh Karthik, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Tim Seifert, Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Shivam Mavi, Lockie Ferguson, Pat Cummins, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Rahul Tripathi, Varun Chakravarthy, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Vaibhav Arora, Harbhajan Singh, Karun Nair, Ben Cutting, Venkatesh Iyer and Pawan Negi.
Match starts at 7.30 pm IST.
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Australia's seven top cricketers including the likes of David Warner, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis and Daniel Sams have pulled out from the upcoming West Indies series for varied reasons and also said that they won't be visiting Bangladesh if that tour is confirmed.
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