Kolkata Knight Riders' Chris Lynn, who is currently injured, was the big difference when KKR played Gujarat Lions earlier in IPL 2017, with Gautam Gambhir's side romping to victory. The two teams are set for another match as Kolkata Knight Riders host Gujarat Lions at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Friday.
It is a battle of teams in contrasting form in IPL 2017. Kolkata Knight Riders have been brilliant, winning their last three matches, while Gujarat Lions are the bottom-placed team in the table. No doubt, KKR will be eager to stretch their winning streak and carry on with their impressive form against the Lions, who will go all out for a much-needed win.
Though KKR have been performing as a unit, one might witness some changes in their playing XI against Gujarat Lions.
Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib AL Hasan could get in a game at the expense of Colin De Grandhomme, who has not been impressive with the bat, nor the ball. With Suryakumar Yadav also not performing in the middle order, it makes good sense for Shakib to play as he can strengthen the middle order as well.
Grandhomme was also asked to open the batting, but he failed in his last match. KKR have been experimenting with their opening combination after Lynn's injury. Their best combination has to be Gambhir and Robin Uthappa, and KKR should not tinker with it.
With Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan in good touch, they look good in the batting arena. In the bowling department, Piyush Chawla could replace Kuldeep Yadav, while Nathan Coulter-Nile should hold on to his place in the playing XI after his three-wicket haul against Delhi Daredevils.
One of the main reasons for Gujarat Lions' failure has been their unbalanced team. Dwayne Bravo, who is recovering from injury, is not match fit, and will take some time to walk into the playing XI. His absence has seriously hurt the team in the bowling department.
Though Andre Tye has done wonders with the ball, they lack a quality all-rounder, and Ravindra Jadeja has also not done the job for Lions, which seems to be a problem. Indian bowlers Dhawal Kulkarni and Basil Thampi should feature in the playing XI, while Shivil Kaushik could be dropped, allowing Shabad Jakati another chance.
However, Dwayne Smith, after his two successive failure with the bat, could be replaced by Jason Roy, who is not happy warming the bench in IPL 2017. Brendon McCullum's form has been their positive point this season, but they need the likes of Suresh Raina and Aaron Finch to be consistent against KKR else the visitors could suffer their fifth loss of the season.
Expected playing XI
KKR: Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, Chris Woakes, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Sunil Narine, Umesh Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav
GL: Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Suresh Raina, Aaron Finch, Dinesh Karthik, Ishan Kishan, James Faulkner, Ravindra Jadeja, Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Basil Thampi