Kolkata: Skipper R Ashwin is in the eye of a storm after Mankading a rival player but a winning start will keep Kings XI Punjab upbeat when they face home favourites Kolkata Knight Riders in an IPL fixture here Wednesday. Kings XI’s biggest star Chris Gayle scored a 47-ball 79 and his Jamaican rivalry with fellow mate Andre Russell, who also looked in blistering touch for KKR, will be one of the sub plots of the clash here.
The Universe Boss, Gayle who will retire from ODIs after the 2019 World Cup, has been in sensational form, smashing 39 sixes in the five-match ODI series against England and set the record for most sixes by a batsman in international cricket. A typical slow starter, Gayle was 14 off 18 balls but the opener hit top gear in the 12th over hammering Jaydev Unadkat for four successive boundaries.
A former KKR player, Gayle knows Eden Gardens like the back of his hand as he would look to continue his assault on the spin-oriented KKR attack. Russell will be KKR’s answer to Gayle as the KKR star also fashioned a sensational win, smashing an unbeaten 49 from 19 balls in their opening fixture against Sunrisers Hyderabad here two days ago.
The win saw their star spinner and explosive opener, Sunil Narine, hurt his finger and KKR would hope he is fit in time. KKR will embark on a crucial four-match away sojourn after this and they would look to keep their momentum intact before they return home to face Delhi Capitals on April 12.
A Russell’s T20 stats
C Gayle’s T20 stats
Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (w/c), Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Prasidh Krishna, Sunil Narine/KC Cariappa
Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Nicholas Pooran/David Miller, R Ashwin (c), Sam Curran/Andrew Tye, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Ankit Rajpoot, Mohammed Shami.
Kolkata: Sunil Narine was struck fiercely on his right hand while trying to save a four and was immediately taken off the field. If Narine is unable to recover in time, Kolkata might look to give mystery spinner KC Cariappa a go.
Punjab: Sarfaraz Khan did do well in the opportunity he got but the same can’t be said about Sam Curran. He might be replaced by Tye for the second encounter while there are chances David Miller might also come in for Nicholas Pooran.