A lot has happened since Kolkata Knight Riders last played in Pune. After notching up the joint-fastest half-century off just 15 balls against Mumbai Indians, Australian quick Pat Cummins has been replaced in the XI by Tim Southee, whose bowling strike-rate of 12 is the third-best for KKR in a season in the IPL. Venkatesh Iyer, who anchored the chase with a patient fifty, too, has been replaced by Baba Indrajith at the top.
Following that table-topping win in their solitary fixture in Pune so far, the side lost as many as five consecutive games and only managed to rescue their campaign with a win over Rajasthan Royals earlier this week. While they found themselves in a similar position last season, when they had won only four games out of ten to then win their fixtures to storm into the final, they will need a similar winning spree to inspire a turnaround.
Nitish Rana, who was ably supported by man-of-the-match Rinku Singh in a match-winning 66-run stand against the Royals and is in line to play his 150th T20 match, declared in the post-match press conference that the Knight Riders had found their ideal XI after chasing down 152 without requiring a significant contribution from any of their decorated overseas big hitters in Aaron Finch and Andre Russell.
Lucknow Super Giants, on the other hand, have a well-settled side and require just one win to, more or less, guarantee themselves a top-four finish. They are currently placed second in the points table with seven wins from ten games.
The Super Giants’ bowling attack has plenty of variety right from Dushmantha Chameera and Jason Holder’s pace and bounce to the left-arm angle of Mohsin Khan to the death-overs skills of Avesh Khan. The Knight Riders, however, do boast of the most sixes hit in the middle-overs with 43 of them.
While both sides have won their sole fixtures in Pune, the Knight Riders can lay claim to calling it their fortress, having not lost any of their seven games at the venue since 2012.
KKR: Shreyas Iyer (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rinku Singh, Aaron Finch, Abhijeet Tomar, Ramesh Kumar, Pratham Singh, Sam Billings, Sheldon Jackson, Baba Indrajith, Pat Cummins, Mohammad Nabi, Nitish Rana, Shivam Mavi, Anukul Roy, Chamika Karunaratne, Aman Khan, Andre Russell, Venkatesh Iyer, Umesh Yadav, Harshit Rana, Tim Southee, Ashok Sharma, Sunil Narine, Varun Chakravarthy
LSG: Quinton de Kock(w), KL Rahul(c), Deepak Hooda, Marcus Stoinis, Krunal Pandya, Ayush Badoni, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jason Holder, Dushmantha Chameera, Mohsin Khan, Ravi Bishnoi, Manish Pandey, Avesh Khan, Shahbaz Nadeem, Manan Vohra, Kyle Mayers, Evin Lewis, Ankit Rajpoot, Andrew Tye, Karan Sharma, Mayank Yadav