In the opening match in Rajkot, Gujarat Lions are better in paper than Kolkata Knight Riders. They have more chance of defeating Kolkata.
Gujarat Lions are stronger in paper than Kolkata Knight Riders in the first match at Rajkot played on 7th April, 2017. Suresh Raina’s team has a stronger batting line up than Gautam Gambhir’s team in IPL.
Gujarat Lions is blessed with some of the most explosive batsmen in their armoury. Finch and McCullum are two known blasting batsmen in the world. Dwayne Smith and Jason Roy are the two other explosive batsmen in the top order. The rest is done by Suresh Raina. Till now he had been the second highest scorer in T20 cricket for India after Virat Kohli.
So he is known for winning matches for Gujarat Lions single handedly.
The only problem Gujarat has is that they had spent too much money on openers across the world. Dwayne Smith had opened for West Indies in many matches. Finch, Roy and McCullum are also renowned openers. So it is a waste of talent if all these openers are send at No 5 or No 6. Dinesh Kartik is the other batsmen who is also known for aggressive batting. As far as bowling is concerned Dhawan Kulkarni had done great work in previous IPLs. Jakata is a spinner who had done miserly spells in the past.
On the contrast Kolkata Knight Riders is a team which heavily relies on bowling strength. Firstly the spinners are many and have a lot of variation. Sunil Narine is known for not giving room to batsmen in IPL matches. He is not known for giving too much spin. But his flat deliveries without fight create huge problems for batsmen. Kuldeep Yadav is the new chinaman spinner for Kolkata Knight Riders. His leg spin is venomous for the batsmen. In the recently concluded test series against Australia, he shattered the Australian top order in the 4th test.
Piyush Chawla is the other leg spinner who is known for giving outstanding googlies and flippers. The fast bowling attack is shared by Trent Boult and Chris Woakes. There is big expectation on Trent Boult because he is known for giving inswinging Yorkers in the slog overs. Woakes is fine in the early overs but is expensive in the slog overs.
Kolkata has few worries. Firstly the fast bowler in form Umesh Yadav wont be available for the first two matches. He had a great test series versus Australia in the past and is known for doing well in both early overs and slog overs. The other worry is that all rounder Shakib Al Hassan is not available for the first two matches. His spin bowling and batting is a great asset for Kolkata Knight Riders.
In the context of batting Gautam Gambhir and Robin Utthappa are the biggest hopes for Kolkata Knight Riders. Gautam Gambhir is the 3rd highest run getter in IPL after Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina. After that there are no big hitters other than Yusuf Pathan. Manish Pandey and Suryakant Yadav are good batsmen but on their own shoulders cannot change the complexion of the game. Kolkata has David Lynx in the team.
Gujarat also has some worries. Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo are not available for the first few matches. So in paper Gujarat Lions are hot favourites to defeat Kolkata Knight Riders in the opening match in Rajkot.
Gautam Gambhir won the toss and elected to field first. Gujarat Lions scored 183 runs with the loss of 4 wickets in the opening match at Rajkot. Suresh Raina remained unbeaten on 68 runs in 51 balls. Dinesh Kartik played a brilliant innings with 47 runs in 25 balls. Kuldeep Yadav got 2 wickets with 25 runs in 4 overs. Boult and Piyush Chawla got 1 wicket each. Sunil Narine gave 33 runs in 4 overs but did not get any wicket. Boult and Woakes were expensive. McCullum scored quickfire 33 runs. Finch scored 2 big sixes of the bowling of Yusuf Pathan and then got out. Roy also did well in the beginning. Suresh Raina was lucky. He gave a number of chances but Kolkata fielders dropped his catches. He capitalized on the failure.
From the first session again the same question came up. There was no point of Gujarat Lions having 4 openers in the same team. In this match they could not make use of the explosive opener Dwayne Smith at the top of the innings. He came after the fall of the 4th wickets and could not face any ball. He remained unbeaten on 0 runs without facing any ball.
The other thing which could be inferred after the first session was that it was not possible for the fast bowlers to do much in IPL. One is due to the heat in mid-April where most part India have above 42 degrees centigrade. Second reason is that the wickets have low bounce and as such bowlers don’t have much to do with short pitched deliveries. Even the first session in Rajkot showed that there was not much swing for the fast bowlers as well. So they tried to bowl cutters and slow bouncers which again were negotiated very well by Roy, McCullum and Dinesh Kartik. So the bulk of match-winning overs are expected from the spinners.
It will be the order of IPL that spinners are going to play great role in the success of the teams. As far as Gujarat Lions, there only job will be get the wickets of Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa very early. It has been seen in the previous IPLs that whenever Gambhir and Uthappa got out cheaply, the Kolkata team collapsed. The batting does not have depth and the batting heavily on the shoulders of Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa. With a good score on the board, Gujarat Lions have every chance of defending the score of 183 runs. KKR is dependent on those batsmen who are known for placing the balls, not slogging with heavy shoulders. At one point of time it becomes difficult. As Russel is unavailable in IPL 2017, it is even more difficult for Kolkata Knight Riders.
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