Mathematically, Kolkata Knight Riders are still in with a shout to qualify for the play-offs but realistically it will need a miracle for them to achieve their goal.
Ranchi: Royal Challengers Bangalore's loss to Kings XI Punjab on Tuesday has left Kolkata Knight Riders hoping that RCB lose their final match and Sunrisers Hyderabad end up on the wrong side of both their remaining matches, and then the 2012 winners need to win their last two. The first of those is against the ousted Pune Warriors at Ranchi on Wednesday, and KKR will hope for an encore of the previous time these two teams met in IPL 6.
Kolkata have been inconsistent in all departments throughout the season and Gautam Gambhir will be hoping that their batsmen show some decent form against Pune. Gambhir had a good tournament with the bat but off late he is struggling to find that form. Jacques Kallis had an excellent outing with both the bat and ball against RCB and will be hoping to continue with the same form. Manoj Tiwary and Yusuf Pathan again failed to live up to their expectation.
KKR's positive this season have been their bowling. The spin duo of Sunil Narine and Sachitra Senanayake has been revelation and has impressed with their consistency; both have picked up wickets at regular intervals and have been impressive with their economy as well. Kallis have picked up 15 wickets and has been pick of the pace bowlers, but death bowling is bit of a worry for KKR.
Pune, on the other hand, would strive to sign off their campaign on a winning note to make up a bit for their 12 losses and a bottom finish. They would have to largely depend on Aaron Finch, but he would have to adapt well to the pitch which did not encourage big hitting during the KKR-RCB tie. The batting is yet to fire in unison and only the openers have scored some runs at the top. Barring skipper Finch's three half-centuries and Robin Uthappa's couple of half-centuries this season, no other Pune batsman has scored a fifty so far. Yuvraj Singh has managed just 205 runs from his 11 games, while the dangerous batsman Steve Smith has returned to Australia due to a back injury.
The bowling also remains a big concern for Pune, especially at the death as most of their bowlers have leaked runs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been the most impressive for them but his partner Ashok Dinda has been expensive. The legspinner Rahul Sharma has been economical but inconsistent. Parvez Rasool has impressed in his previous outings and fans will be hoping that he lives up to his hype in remaining games as well.
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1Gautam Gambhir (capt), 2 Manvinder Bisla (wk), 3 Yusuf Pathan, 4 Jacques Kallis, 5 Eoin Morgan/ Ryan ten Doeschate, 6 Manoj Tiwary, 7 Rajat Bhatia, 8 Debabrata Das, 9 Sunil Narine, 10 L Balaji, 11 Sachitra Senanayake
Pune Warriors India: 1 Aaron Finch (capt), 2 Robin Uthappa (wk), 3 Yuvraj Singh, 4 Manish Pandey, 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Abhishek Nayar, 7 Kane Richardson, 8 Parvez Rasool, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Ajantha Mendis, 11 Ashok Dinda