Two years ago at Eden Gardens, Kolkata and the Knight Riders celebrated their maiden IPL triumph in the scorching summer heat.
The Knight Riders are now on a hot streak after winning seven matches in a row, a run which has helped them pave their path to the play-offs after being inconsistent at the start of the season.
Kolkata now have to win two more matches, including Qualifier 1 against Kings XI Punjab, to revisit the glory of 2012. Raising the IPL trophy for a second time, a feat only the Chennai Super Kings have achieved, will be easier said than done. Punjab are the best team of this IPL and have romped to the play-offs with 22 points from 14 group matches.
They too have the winning momentum and more importantly, a host of match-winners. But with 65,000 partisan fans at the Eden Gardens, things can be pretty intimidating for the visitors. The challenge for George Bailey’s men will be to keep calm.
On the face of it, tomorrow’s game should be a battle of big hitters. Kolkata have Purple Cap holder Robin Uthappa, a marauding Shakib Al Hasan and Yusuf Pathan, reborn after his 22-ball 72 against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Punjab can respond with Virender Sehwag, Manan Vohra, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and skipper Bailey. But weather could play spoilsport as it has been raining here since Sunday morning. So the Eden Gardens is under covers, forcing the two teams to cancel their training sessions on the match eve. More rain is forecast over the next 24 hours and it has put a question mark over a full quota of overs being bowled.
There’s every chance of the Duckworth and Lewis method coming into play and that will make it anybody’s game. The saving grace is that there are reserve days for play-off matches. In case of back-to-back washouts, however, the higher-placed team goes through.
So far, things are pretty even between the two teams in this IPL. Punjab won by 22 runs in Abu Dhabi. Kolkata avenged it in Cuttack with a nine-wicket victory. Interestingly, both matches were relatively low-scoring affairs.
A total of 324 runs in 14 matches (highest score 72, strike-rate 132.78) suggest that Virender Sehwag has made a decent contribution in this tournament without being explosive. This is his big moment. Kolkata have a 100 per cent winning record at Eden Gardens this season and in all