Winless Deccan Chargers (DC) will continue their quest for an elusive victory when they take on an up-and-down Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the 29th match of the Indian Premier League's (IPL) season five in Cuttack on Sunday. Deccan will be praying that the new venue changes their fortunes and they score their first points of the season. The Barabati Stadium played host to two out of seven of Deccan's home games in IPL 4 and on both occasions the hosts were on the winning side.
But having lost all four of their matches so far this season, DC will have to get their act together against a side high on confidence after defeating Kings XI Punjab easily in their last encounter. Things can get even worse for Kumar Sangakkara's men if they don't get their act together and start playing as a team, than relying on individual brilliance.
The biggest problem for Deccan has been their inconsistent bowlers. Where Dale Steyn has been outstanding throughout and has troubled batsmen, others have been average at best, giving away easy runs and breaking down under pressure. Deccan's premier legspinner Amit Mishra has bowled well only in patches, while Daniel Christian has struggled.
However, Deccan's batting hasn't faired badly when compared to their bowling. Sangakkara and Shikhar Dhawan have been solid at the top, though the skipper hasn't been at his best yet. Dhawan and one-down batsman Parthiv Patel had a good outing in DC's last match, scoring quickfire 44 and 45, respectively. And JP Duminy's inclusion in the last match made their middle order look much more solid. So Deccan would once again hope that the top order keeps doing the run-scoring business as is and allows the middle- and late-order batsmen to end the innings on a high.
Gautam Gambhir's Kolkata Knight Riders go into this match after a fine display against Punjab in their previous match, but too much pressure has been put on their top three, including Gambhir and Jacques Kallis, and it's time for others to step up. The likes of Brendon McCullum, Manoj Tiwary and Manvinder Bisla look to be in fine touch but still have to score big. Unfortunately for KKR, their big-hitter Yusuf Pathan has failed to deliver in the first half of the season. Maybe Kolkata should look to send him up the order to give him more time at the crease to get his form back.
On the bowling front, Kolkata would once again depend heavily on veteran Australian bowler Brett Lee and West Indies' spinner Sunil Narine, who has impressed in his debut IPL season. Laxmipathy Balaji and Rajat Bhatia have also been pretty impressive and will be crucial in the middle overs with their change of pace.
While it would be interesting to watch if Deccan can finally perform as a unit and break the string of losses, Kolkata begin the match as favourites. However, Deccan have some big players in their ranks who can surprise any team on their day.
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 2 Jacques Kallis, 3 Brendon McCullum (wk), 4 Manoj Tiwary, 5 Yusuf Pathan, 6 Manvinder Bisla, 7 Brett Lee, 8 Rajat Bhatia, 9 Lakshmipathy Balaji, 10 Sunil Narine, 11 Debabrata Das
Deccan Chargers: 1 Kumar Sangakkara (capt), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Parthiv Patel, 4 Daniel Christian, 5 Jean-Paul Duminy, 6 Bharat Chipli, 7 Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, 8 Amit Mishra, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Ankit Sharma, 11 Manpreet Gony