Finalists of season 2014, Punjab and Kolkata will lock horns in the first clash of April’s final week in the Indian T20 League. Punjab are entering into this fixture after defeating Mumbai in the previous game, while Kolkata suffered a 6-wicket loss to Rajasthan in their last game.
Match Timings: April 26, 7:30 PM IST
Punjab and Kolkata will face each other in an important weekday clash in Motera. Kolkata are in deep trouble after finishing their Mumbai and Chennai leg. They made a good start to the season but suffered 4 consecutive defeats to take the bottom spot in the points table. In the previous game, they delivered another batting failure and Rajasthan restricted them on 133. It was a below-average total in Mumbai and Rajasthan chased it down with 6 wickets in hand. With just two points from 5 games, Kolkata has to rebuild their team. The first half of the tournament is going to end and if they continue playing like this, they will be in a big mess to crack playoffs this time.
Kolkata have a good pool of quality players but they miss out the execution on the field. Morgan looked clueless with his captaincy and his batting. Top-order and middle-order perform on alternative games which means the collective batting effort goes down. Kolkata would look to better their bowling part as well. Morgan can recall Harbhajan for this game considering the spin on the pitch and Narine might be replaced by Shakib tonight.
Meanwhile, Punjab are coming off a clinical victory and they tried to fill all the gaps after overcoming defending champions. They have two wins from five matches and they will now enter in Ahmedabad leg with some confidence. In the previous game, they bowled very well and restricted strong Mumbai to 131 and later, the duo of Gayle and Rahul charged Punjab to a 9-wicket victory over Mumbai. They ended their 3-match losing streak. Motera’s track is quite similar to Chennai but it has a slightly better surface for batting.
Punjab would avoid any big change in the squad. Ravi Bishnoi bagged two in his first game and Rahul’s smart move to try Hooda is excellent. Punjab has improved their depth in batting but they cannot rely on their top-order. Gayle is now a big asset for them and we saw his different version in Chennai as he constricted the chase and smashed the ball in the end. Rahul also has to improve his strike rate because we can expect a good score in Motera.
Motera’s track is an ideal T20 surface and it allows batsmen to get lot of runs. It’s a surface of 150-160 and chasing would be interesting. Spinners can take some help due to the sluggish behaviour of the pitch.
KL Rahul (c & wk), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Moises Henriques, Nicholas Pooran, Deepak Hooda, Shahrukh Khan, Fabian Allen, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh
Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi, Eoin Morgan (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Andre Russell, Pat Cummins, Harbhajan Singh, Varun Chakravarthy, Prasidh Krishna
221 runs in 5 innings, two 50s so far and having a top-form
Effective on slow-tracks, two wickets in previous game
Top-scorer for Kolkata, two 50s so far
Looked promising in last couple of games, handy with the bowl as well