KL Rahul is the man to watch out for as KKR come up against LSG

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Pune: A resurgent Kolkata Knight Riders will be wary of the threat posed by Lucknow Super Giants’ in-from skipper KL Rahul when the two sides face off in the IPL here on Saturday.

LSG are sitting in second place with 14 points and are on course to secure a play-offs berth, thanks to a stupendous show by Rahul, who has been their batting mainstay.

Former champions KKR are languishing in eighth spot with eight points and after four wins from 10 games, a positive result would help them stay afloat in the race for a play-offs spot.

Rahul has led LSG from the front, amassing a staggering 451 runs from 10 matches, with two hundreds and as many fifties to be the second highest run-getter this season.

He came up with a vital knock of 77 in their narrow six-run win against Delhi Capitals, which was their third on the bounce. Thus KKR’s varied attack, comprising Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, Shivam Mavi and Sunil Narine, would be keen to put the brakes on Rahul.

It is high time LSG’s others batters like Quinton de Kock, Ayush Badoni, Deepak Hooda and Krunal Pandya start taking greater responsibility and deliver.

De Kock got a start against Delhi, but needs to convert them into a big knock. Hooda chipped in with quick-fire 52 against DC, but he has to be more consistent.

A lot will also depend on how hard-hitting all-rounders Marcus Stoinis and Jason Holder perform.

Pacer Mohsin Khan, who snared four wickets in their last game, is getting better with every outing, but Dushmantha Chameera and Holder would need to forget their hammering by Delhi. Ditto for Pandya.

The four overs each by spinners Ravi Bishnoi and K Gowtham can have a bearing on the match’s outcome.

Meanwhile for KKR, the biggest worry has been their out of form openers. They have tried different combinations, but none has worked so far.

If they persist with Aaron Finch and Baba Indrajith, the two would need to provide an aggressive start.

Skipper Shreyas Iyer, who has scored 324 runs from 10 matches, has had a subdued season by his standards. Just two fifties do not justify his talent and the KKR captain needs to get going if the team has to chase or post a big total.

The KKR management would be pleased that their middle-order clicked against Rajasthan, with Nitish Rana and Rinku Singh playing match-winning knocks. The duo, along with the swashbuckling Andre Russell, can trouble the Lucknow bowling attack and KKR would hope that their top and middle-order fire.

KKR dished out a clinical show when they restricted Rajasthan Royals to a modest 152. While Umesh and Narine were right on the money, Southee, who bled 46 runs, will need to forget the hammering and look ahead.

KKR may also continue with spinner Anukul Roy, who fared well in the last game, which they won to snap their five-match losing streak.

Teams (from):

Kolkata Knight Riders: Aaron Finch, Abhijeet Tomar, Ajinkya Rahane, Baba Indrajith, Nitish Rana, Pratham Singh, Rinku Singh, Shreyas Iyer, Ashok Sharma, Pat Cummins, Rasikh Dar, Shivam Mavi, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav, Varun Chakaravarthy, Aman Khan, Andre Russell, Anukul Roy, Chamika Karunaratne, Mohammed Nabi, Ramesh Kumar, Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer, Sam Billings, Sheldon Jackson.

Lucknow Super Giants: KL Rahul (Captain), Manan Vohra, Evin Lewis, Manish Pandey, Quinton De Kock, Ravi Bishnoi, Dushmantha Chameera, Shahbaz Nadeem, Mohsin Khan, Mayank Yadav, Ankit Rajpoot, Avesh Khan, Andrew Tye, Marcus Stoinis, Kyle Mayers, Karan Sharma, Krishnappa Gowtham, Ayush Badoni, Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya. Jason Holder.

Match starts at 7.30 PM.

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