Defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders face Chennai Super Kings in the first Indian Premier League (IPL) scheduled for Saturday. The match will take place at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. The 2008 champions, Rajasthan Royals, will visit Royal Challengers Bangalore in the second game of the day.
Where to Watch Live
Play starts at 11am BST. Live coverage is on ITV 4 and ITV 4 HD. Follow the match live, via text updates, on ESPN Cricinfo.
The Knight Riders come into this game after a narrow defeat to Kings XI Punjab. The champions were beaten by four runs, despite strong displays from the captain, Gautam Gambhir and England's Eoin Morgan; the former hit 60 off only 39 balls, to post a third successive half-century and a fourth, in total, this season.
Earlier, Punjab rode on 41 off 30 balls from Mandeep Singh and a thunderous 42 off only 18 from Manpreet Gony to post 157/9. South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis and West Indian spinner Sunil Narine were the chief tormentors, with 3/24 and 3/33 respectively.
The result means the Knight Riders stay in the bottom half of the table, with only four points from five games. They need to finish in the top four to qualify for the knock-out stages and face a fight to accomplish that goal, with heavy-hitters like Mumbai Indians, Bangalore and Chennai above them in the standings.
For that reason, this match assumes considerable significance for Gambhir and his men. A fourth defeat in six games, particularly to MS Dhoni's crew, will make qualification a very difficult prospect for the champions. Gambhir will look to Yusuf Pathan and Kallis particularly, for the former has flopped so far this season, while Kallis has failed to deliver with the bat.
Meanwhile, the redoubtable Super Kings stormed back from a shocking home defeat to Pune Warriors with a clinical 86 run win against Delhi Daredevils. The home side put the Super Kings into bat and despite early joy in the form of Murali Vijay's wicket, a storming all-round display from the top order (Michael Hussey scored 65, Suresh Raina 30 and Dhoni blasted 44 from 23 balls) ensured a sizeable 169/4 after 20 overs.
An incisive spell from the Super Kings' Mohit Sharma and superb back-up from everyone else doomed the Delhi side to 83 all out in less than 18 overs. Sharma picked up 3/10 and Ravichandran Ashwin 2/18.
Dhoni's men are fourth in the table and could move up to third by the end of the day, depending on results in Bangalore.
Kolkata Knight Riders
- Last Five (most recent first): L W L L W
- Last Result: Kings XI Punjab beat Kolkata Knight Riders by four runs
Chennai Super Kings
- Last Five (most recent first): W L W W L
- Last Result: Delhi Daredevils lost to Chennai Super Kings by 86 runs
The home team's batting order looks strong on paper but there is still a measure of inconsistency that needs to be addressed. Gambhir, Manvinder Bisla, Kallis, Manoj Tiwary, Morgan and Pathan make for a very powerful top order but Kallis and Pathan have not really pulled in the big scores. The South African is coming off an injury and recent performances, with the ball at least, show he is regaining his old form. However, Pathan needs to do more than hit 20 off 10 balls and then throw his wicket away.
The Super Kings have one of the strongest squads in the IPL and the match against Delhi showed the depth and power available to Dhoni. Hussey, Raina, Vijay and Bravo, in addition to the captain, are capable of chasing down almost any total and the Knight Riders will be aware of that when the time comes. Meanwhile, in Ashwin they have a leading and wicket-taking spinner and in South African Chris Morris and Indian Ravindra Jadeja, two very useful all-rounders.