The Kolkata Knight Riders will be happy to be back at the Eden Gardens, as the former champions get set to host the Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2016. Having snapped a two-match losing streak, KKR will look to take a climb up the IPL points table with a win on Wednesday.
It will be far from easy, though, considering KXIP are coming off a morale-boosting victory over the Gujarat Lions. Looking down and out, Kings XI somehow found their bowling groove as new captain Murali Vijay led his team to victory at the first time of asking.
While KKR will start the game as the heavy favourites, KXIP have the confidence and potential to cause another upset. Here is a prediction of how KKR vs KXIP at the Eden Gardens might go.
If KKR bat first: Setting a total is not KKR's forte, but, relishing being back at home, Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa get their team off to a solid start, scoring 48 runs in the first six overs. That partnership bulges to 80, before Axar Patel dismisses Uthappa in the tenth over. Manish Pandey comes in and accelerates the scoring rate, with the runs coming at a good clip even after Gambhir and Shakib Al Hasan depart. Yusuf Pathan, adrenaline still running through his veins from that outstanding innings against RCB, whacks a few as well to take KKR to 170.
Kings XI make another solid opening courtesy Vijay and Marcus Stoinis, but the two fall quickly together in the sixth over, to Sunil Narine, to put their team in a spot of bother. Wriddhiman Saha and David Miller try to repair the innings, and while Glenn Maxwell and Farhaan Behardien come in late and smash a few, it is a little too late for Kings XI to fashion a win, with the Punjab franchise falling short by 14 runs.
If KXIP bat first: Vijay is out early, caught behind off Andre Russell, but Stoinis looks in prime form, with Saha, sent up at No.3, giving him good company. The two batsmen put on a half-century partnership, to set the base for Miller, Maxwell and Behardien to tonk. The three overseas players do just that to help KXIP to 168.
Gambhir falls early, while Uthappa is also out in the Powerplay. However, Pandey and Shakib put on a really good partnership, going at over eight runs an over to swing KKR back on course. With eight overs to go, KKR are left needing around 80 runs, and while Pandey and Shakib fall close together, there is Pathan, Russell and Suryakumar Yadav to do the job.