Six games into the tournament, Kolkata Knight Riders have finally begun performing on par with expectations. They secured two wins out of their first three, both on the bank of individual performances, but since then, they have gone on to lose three games on the trot, including a loss against Delhi in their last encounter. Playing at home after more than a week, KKR will be eager to get back to winning ways.
On the other hand, Chennai have defied all logic and won four of their six games so far. They will look to pile on to KKR’s misery and get their third away win of the season. Matheesha Pathirana coming good for them has gone a long way in strengthening their bowling attack. He will be key to their plans at Eden.
Things to watch out for
KKR’s opening struggles
KKR have tried four opening combinations in six games, and have lost at least two wickets in the powerplay each game. With Litton Das failing in his maiden IPL game, it will not be surprising to see them modify their opening combination yet again.
Their batting performance in the powerplay has been subpar. They have lost the most wickets in the first six so far. And have lost a wicket every 14 balls, also the worst among all teams.
Having lost three in a row, KKR can ill-afford yet another false start with the bat.
Sunil Narine and Varun Chakaravarthy vs CSK
The mystery spin duo have enjoyed bowling to the CSK batters. Since 2020, they have cumulatively taken 13 wickets against Dhoni’s men, and conceded runs at only 6.8 RPO.
Ajinkya Rahane is the only batter in Chennai’s top 6 to have scored above 120 against them.
How CSK tackles these eight overs could potentially decide the fate of the game.
Should Vaibhav Arora be handed a cap?
KKR’s pacers have conceded at 11.4 RPO and taken a wicket every 28 balls. Their pacers are also the only ones to have conceded in excess of 10 RPO in all three phases.
Umesh Yadav is the only KKR pacer yet to face the axe, and Vaibhav is the only pacer in their squad yet to feature in the XI. Last season, Vaibhav got the better of CSK batters in the powerplay, registering 2/12 in his 3 overs with the new ball. He could add a bit of potency to their currently toothless pace attack.
In IPL 2023, Eden Gardens has played host to two IPL games, one against Sunrisers Hyderabad, and the other against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Interestingly enough, both the games have seen the teams batting first put 200 runs on the board. In the previous game, SRH posted 228 in the first innings before Kolkata came close with 205, showing how batting-friendly it has been.
Spinner have taken 15 wickets this year. In comparison, pacers have only picked up 13 wickets. Even in terms of economy rate, spinners (7.8 RPO) have a significant upper hand over pacers (11.1 RPO).
Stats That Matter
Amongst all venues in IPL 2023, Eden Gardens has been the most favorable venue for batters, with an average run-rate of 9.8. It also saw this edition’s first century.
Having spent most of his time on the bench last season, Devon Conway has come to Chennai’s rescue in multiple games, during this year’s IPL. Not only has he scored a hat-trick of fifties, he has also often ensured that his scoring rate has been optimum, with a strike-rate of 144.1. His last three innings read: 77*, 83 and 50.
Eden Gardens is a happy hunting ground for Narine. Despite his horror show against Delhi, there is reason to be optimistic about him coming good in Kolkata. In 46 games at the venue, Narine has bagged 58 wickets, averaging just 19.2.
Coming off a comfortable win against SRH at home, it’s unlikely that CSK will tweak their XI for this clash.
Chennai Super Kings: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devon Conway, Ajinkya Rahane, Moeen Ali Shivam Dube, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, MS Dhoni, Maheesh Theekshana, Matheesha Pathirana, Tushar Deshpande
After a string of losses, KKR will be hurting. Despite making four changes in their previous game, it’s not beyond them to keep ringing in the changes
Kolkata Knight Riders: Jason Roy, Litton Das, Mandeep Singh, Nitish Rana, Venkatesh Iyer, Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Kulwant Khejroliya, Varun Chakaravarthy, Vaibhav Arora