Knightriders come to Mohali in controversial, trying times (Preview)

May 2nd, 2008 - 2:05 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Shoaib Akhtar
By Jaideep Sarin
Mohali (Punjab), May 2 (IANS) With three straight losses and charges of not playing in the ’spirit-of-the-game’, Kolkata Knightriders skipper Sourav Ganguly leads his squad to face home team Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 encounter here Saturday. Ganguly and his team will have to lift their game to take on the Yuvraj Singh-led Kings XI Punjab who come here after having vanquished Deccan Chargers in Hyderabad Thursday night.

The Knightriders will have to contend with the fact that a few of their top names will not be available for Saturday’s encounter at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) stadium.

While Australian captain Ricky Ponting and New Zealander Brendon Mccullum have left to play for their respective countries, West Indian Chris Gayle continues to be on the injured list and Pakistani speedster Shoaib Akhtar’s career in IPL remains a question mark.

The Knightriders will have to put up a real stunning performance here to prove to owner Shah Rukh Khan that they are real “baazigars” who will pull out a win even from a loss.

The spat with Rajasthan Royals skipper Shane Warne and Ganguly’s teammate Umar Gul casting aspersions on his captaincy after the Knightriders’ latest defeat in Jaipur Thursday are likely to put Ganguly under added pressure to perform and deliver.

But the ‘Prince of Kolkata’ is unlikely to let the controversy bog him down in this crucial game.

The Mohali team will also be without Australian fast bowler Brett Lee but have the services of Irfan Pathan, the temperamental S. Sreesanth and V.R.V. Singh to fill that slot in the pace bowling department. The team has two quality spinners in Piyush Chawla and Romesh Powar to fall back on.

With the Mohali track likely to support fast bowling, the encounter between is expected to be interesting. The Knightriders will rely on pacemen Ishant Sharma, Umar Gul, Ajit Agarkar and Ashok Dinda to keep the Mohali batting line up in control.

Given’s Shaun Marsh’s exploits in the Hyderabad game Thursday and the Mohali team batting line-up in Yuvraj Singh, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardane and Ramnaresh Sarwan, the Knightriders have an uphill task.

The Mohali side not only has the home advantage but also the fact that they have won three out of the five games played compared to Ganguly’s team that has won only two matches out of five.

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