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KKR look to stem rot against Sunrisers

By Anurag Dey, IANS,

Kolkata: After two back to back losses, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) would hope to get their Indian Premier League (IPL) title defence campaign back on track against Sunrisers Hyderabad, currently placed second in the points table.

After making a winning start against Delhi Daredevils, KKR have struggled with the bat and seen their campaign go downhill by losing to Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore in a row.

Up against a formidable Sunrisers bowling attack comprising South African Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma and leggie Amit Mishra, KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir would hope his batsmen to come good. Barring Gambhir and English recruit Eoin Morgan, none of the batsmen have managed to be among runs.

During Sunday’s match against the Hyderabad-based outfit at the Eden Gardens here, the home fans would hope to see big hitter Yusuf Pathan finally perform. One of the costliest acquisitions for KKR, the burly all-rounder, so far, has failed to live-up to his billing.

The home team may bolster their batting by bringing in explosive Kiwi Brendon McCullum, who has recovered from a hamstring injury.

Mystery spinner Sunil Narine, instrumental in Knight Riders’ maiden title last year, would continue to be the trump card for his team which has a potent bowling attack led by Aussie pacer Brett Lee. Lee is backed by Proteas all-rounder Jacques Kallis, Rajat Bhatia and Laxmipathy Balaji.

Narine, who took 24 wickets in 15 matches in the last edition, has bamboozled rival batsmen this year too taking half a dozen scalps and conceding runs at just under five per over from three matches.

KKR would surely hope to take advantage of a frail Sunrisers batting line-up which has only two big names — skipper Kumar Sangakara and Australian Cameron White. Missing the services of exciting opener Sikhar Dhawan, who is out with an injury, the Hyderabadis made heavy weather of a modest chase against Delhi Daredevils before scampering to victory in their last outing Friday.

The Sunrisers have humbled opponents Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Delhi Daredevils, and would like to continue their winning streak. With three wins out of four games, they are just behind leaders RCB in the table.