IPL 2018 Preview: Gautam Gambhir returns to his former 'home' as Kolkata Knight Riders welcome Delhi Daredevils

Ashish Peter 15/04/2018
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Gambhir will be back at the Eden Gardens . Image - DD//Twitter.

Two teams who have had an indifferent start to their IPL 2018 campaign will lock horns when Kolkata Knight Riders host the Delhi Daredevils at the Eden Gardens on Monday.

Both franchises have suffered two defeats each in three matches so far and will be desperate for the points on Monday.

The match marks the return of Delhi Daredevils skipper Gautam Gambhir to his former stomping ground where he led the Kolkata franchise to two IPL titles.

TALKING POINTS

PRESSURE GROWING ON DINESH KARTHIK

Filling in Gambhir’s boots at the Eden Gardens was never going to be an easy feat. That has been the case so far for Dinesh Karthik whose captaincy tenure started off in perfect fashion with a win against Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Since then, it has all gone downhill for Karthik and his men with losses against Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Apart from the results, it is his own failures with the bat after getting good starts that will rankle the India man. The passionate Eden Gardens faithful will demand the highest of standards from their skipper and Karthik will need to stand up and be counted soon.

DAREDEVILS FINDING THEIR FEET

It seemed all too familiar for Delhi Daredevils as they fell to defeats in their opening two matches in the 2018 edition. Having opted to go in with a highly revamped squad this season, the fortunes of the Daredevils appeared to be flailing until a last-ball victory against the defending champions Mumbai Indians.

It took a really special innings of 91 (53) from England opener Jason Roy to get Delhi over the line in that clash and his arrival has given the outfit a much more complete look. Gambhir’s men will be desperate to take the momentum from that win into Monday at the Eden Gardens where a defeat for either side could prove to be damaging.

PLAYERS IN FOCUS

In Glenn Maxwell and Trent Boult, the Daredevils have two proven match-winners. Unfortunately for them, the Australian batsman and the Kiwi pacer have both failed to deliver in the three matches so far.

The visitors will need these two to get firing quickly if they want to have a better IPL than last time.

For the home side, India U19 Pacer Kamlesh Nagarkoti has been ruled out for the season without bowling a ball.

Their two other U19 World Cup winning stars in Shubman Gill and Shivam Mavi were given their IPL debuts in the defeat to Hyderabad. Both of them failed to create any impact and it will be interesting to note if Karthik continues to persist with them in a crucial fixture or decides to go with more experienced heads.

LIKELY LINE-UPS

Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (wk & C), Andre Russell, Shivam Mavi, Mitchell Johnson, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla

Delhi Daredevils: Gautam Gambhir (C), Jason Roy, Rishab Pant (wk), Glenn Maxwell, Shreyas Iyer, Vijay Shankar, Chris Morris, Rahul Tewatia, Shahbaz Nadeem, Mohammed Shami, Trent Boult

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Chris Gayle joins IPL party with smashing fifty on Kings XI Punjab debut

Ashish Peter 15/04/2018
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Gayle struck a 22-ball fifty on his franchise debut. Image - IPL/Twitter.

Chris Gayle had a point to prove as took guard against Chennai Super Kings at Mohali on Sunday.

Now a part of Kings XI Pujab, Gayle had suffered the ignominy of going unsold initially in the IPL auction after not being retained by the Royal Challengers Bangalore where he had been a fan favourite for several years.

After missing out on the playing XI in the opening two matches, the Jamaican was unleashed against the MS Dhoni led Super Kings as he made his debut for the Mohali-based franchise.

Starting cautiously but in control, Gayle took his time to get going. It was in the fourth over of Punjab’s innings that the left-hander burst into life as he tore into Harbhajan Singh’s off-spin.

Smashing a six and a boundary off Harbhajan’s first two deliveries, the West Indies man found his rhythm as the warning bells began ringing for the visitors.

From that point on, there was no looking back as Gayle made full use of his brute force and impeccable timing to cash in on the power-play overs.

The 38-year-old brought up his fifty in just 22 balls in the seventh over of the innings. By the time he hoisted South African leg-spinner Imran Tahir for a massive six in the final delivery of the seventh over, Kings XI Punjab had scored 92 runs.

In the end, Gayle fell for 63 (33) after miscuing a pull off Shane Watson but his 96-run opening stand with KL Rahul had done enough damage to Chennai.

It was a fitting franchise debut for Gayle and it will have a few Royal Challengers Bangalore fans scratching their heads wondering why the ‘entertainer’ wasn’t retained. For now, Bengaluru’s loss is Mohali’s gain.

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IPL 2018: Virat Kohli's fastest fifty not enough and other talking points as Rajasthan Royals defeat Royal Challengers Bangalore

Ashish Peter 15/04/2018
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Kohli scored a 26-ball fifty in defeat. Image - IPL/Twitter.

Bowlers from both sides were put under intense pressure Rajasthan Royals scripted a 19-run victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore in theirIPL clash at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday.

Batting first, the Rajasthan Royals amassed 217-4, thanks to a breathtaking knock from Sanju Samson who hit 92 off 45 deliveries with two boundaries and 10 sixes. The Royal Challengers put up a fight but finished on 198-6 as they fell to a second defeat in three matches.

Here, we look at the key talking points from a high-scoring clash.

SAMSON GOES BERSERK

The Royal Challengers had started well with the ball as D’Arcy Short fell cheaply for the third consecutive innings . What followed was utter mayhem as Samson walked out to the crease. The 23-year-old only dealt in sixes as he tore apart the RCB bowling unit with clean hits across the park.

He raced away to fifty without hitting a single boundary and it was not until the 19th over that Samson registered his first four of the innings. By that time, he had already carted eight sixes around the Chinnaswamy Stadium, a new IPL record. The right-handed batsmen smashed five sixes and two boundaries off his last eight deliveries as he finished unbeaten on 92.

KOHLI FIGHTS FIRE WITH FIRE

After Samson’s whirlwind innings, RCB skipper Virat Kohli was not going to be left behind. With Brendon McCullum falling in the first over of the chase, Kohli took it upon himself to drive the hosts’ reply.

Kohli found the gaps with a mix of orthodox cricketing shots and a few wild slogs. Keeping Bangalore close to the asking-rate, Kohli raced away to fifty off just 26 deliveries. This was the fastest of Kohli’s 33 half-centuries in the IPL.

The skipper was looking in imperious touch and was threatening to take the game away from the Royals single-handedly before being caught on the boundary ropes off Shreyas Gopal for 57 (30).

AB DE VILLIERS FAILS TO MAKE MOST OF REPRIEVE

With 217 to defend, Rajasthan Royals knew the wickets of Kohli and AB de Villiers should settle the affair. While Kohli got off to a flier, De Villiers looked scratchy at the start.

The South African was batting on two runs when he charged at Royals’ spinner Shreyas Gopal in the ninth over. Gopal bowled a googly, deceiving the batsman in the air and beating his inside edge. However, Jos Buttler failed to collect the ball with De Villiers stranded some way down the pitch.

Luckily for the Royals, the Proteas batsman did not do too much damage as he was dismissed by the very same bowler. A half-tracker down the leg side proved to be De Villiers’ downfall as he smashed the ball straight into the hands of Jaydev Unadkat at deep square-leg.

That didn’t matter to Gopal, who is a local boy, as he took a celebratory lap around the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

SUNDAR AND MANDEEP FIGHT BACK

With the fall of De Villiers’ wicket, the Royals were within touching distance of victory. However, a half-century stand for the sixth wicket between Washington Sundar and Mandeep Singh gave Bangalore a glimmer of hope.

Sundar especially looked extremely good. The two found boundaries towards the end as panic started to set in in the Royals camp.

The duo bought the equation down to 38 off 10 balls before Sundar was bowled off a full-toss by Ben Stokes. Nevertheless, those late runs will come in handy for the Royal Challengers if net run rate comes into play towards the end of the league phase.

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