Pune: Defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders would be looking to restore lost pride when they take on the struggling Pune Warriors in their Pepsi Indian Premier League match on Thursday.
Both the teams are in the bottom half of the points table with the Knight Riders at eight points from just four wins in 12 games. Pune, on the other hand, are currently positioned last with four points, having lost 10 out of 12 matches.
It will a great chance for the title-holders, who are virtually out of contention for a berth in the four-team play-offs, to redeem themselves against a side enduring a nightmarish campaign this season.
However, it would certainly not be an easy task for KKR, especially after the thrashing they received at the hands of Mumbai Indians last night.
Having posted 170, Mumbai Indians bowled out the Knight Riders for a mere 105 in 18.2 overs to register a 65-run win with only Jacques Kallis (24) and Debabrata Das (23) crossing the 20-run mark.
The Knight Riders` top-order batting has waxed and waned in IPL-6. None signifies this aspect better than captain Gautam Gambhir who started off with three half-centuries only to be left struggling since then.
Though Gambhir is still the top scorer for his side with 320 runs, his poor run with the bat after the great beginning has put pressure on the late-order batsmen. Even the ever-dependable Jacques Kallis (243 runs) has not been consistent.
Big-hitting Eoin Morgan has been the main batsman in the middle-order with 283 runs, while Yusuf Pathan, after showing glimpses of his talent in the match against Rajasthan Royals, was back among the low scorers.
As far as their bowling is concerned, Kolkata have been depending a lot on their unorthodox spinner Sunil Narine (16 wickets) to get the breakthroughs.
With no other tear-away opening bowler to bank on, especially after Ryan McLaren was smashed for 60 runs in four overs last night, Brett Lee (4 wickets) could be given his fourth game of the season to support the likes of Kallis (11), Rajat Bhatia (10) and Laxmipathy Balaji (6).
Similarly, Pune Warriors cup of woes is also brimming over after they suffered their seventh straight loss against Rajasthan Royals in their previous game.
And come tomorrow it would again be a daunting task for Aaron Finch`s boys against a team, which might be low at the moment but boasts of some big-hitters.
The Warriors have been woefully out of sorts and inconsistent in all departments of the game.
The batting is yet to fire in unison and barring Aaron Finch`s three half-centuries and Robin Uthappa`s couple of half-centuries this season, no other Pune batsman, which also includes the likes of Yuvraj Singh, has scored a fifty so far.
Yuvraj has managed just 171 runs from his nine games.
Bowling also remains a big concern for Pune as most of their bowlers have leaked runs especially pacer Ashok Dinda, who went for 52 runs from his four against RCB.
Poor death bowling has also been hurting them. They need to regroup if they want to give themselves a chance against Kolkata.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (Capt.), Manvinder Bisla, Yusuf Pathan, Jacques Kallis, Rajat Bhatia, Laxmipathy Balaji, Sarabjit Ladda, Brad Haddin, Debabrata Das, Iqbal Abdulla, Brett Lee, Ryan McLaren, Eoin Morgan, Sunil Narine, Sumit Narwal, Suchitra Senanayake, Pradeep Sangwan, Shami Ahmed, Shakib Al Hasan, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Ryan ten Doeschate, Manoj Tiwary, James Pattinson.
Pune Warriors: Aaron Finch (captain), Angelo Mathews, Abhishek Nayar, Ajanta Mendis, Ali Murtaza, Anustup Mazumdar, Ashok Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dheeraj Jadhav, Eklavya Dwivedi, Harpreet Singh, Ishwar Pandey, Kane Richardson, Krishnakant Upadhyay, Luke Wright, Mahesh Rawat, Manish Pandey, Marlon Samuels, Mitchell Marsh, Mithun Manhas, Parveez Rasool, Rahul Sharma, R Gomez, Robin Uthappa, Ross Taylor, Shrikant Wagh, Steve Smith, T Suman, Tamim Iqbal, Udit Birla, Wayne Parnell and Yuvraj Singh.