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KKR will press for play-off spot

Nandakumar Marar



TURNING THINGS AROUND:KKR's investment in Gambhir seems to have paid off as the team now finds itself in contention for a spot in the play-offs.

NAVI MUMBAI: Kolkata Knight Riders' best IPL showing has coincided with the franchise's decision to look beyond Sourav Ganguly when building its team for the DLF-IPL-IV.

As his former side takes on Pune Warriors India at the D.Y. Patil Stadium on Thursday, Ganguly will find himself among the ranks of the newcomer, now ninth in the league and out of contention for the play-offs.

KKR, the IPL-IV version, has built its team around Gautam Gambhir, and the investment in a dynamic captain is paying off — the side has a slot in the play-offs in its sights as the league moves into its concluding phase.

While Gambhir arrives into this match in the search for points and polished performances the host, under Yuvraj Singh is grappling with indifferent form, and have more problems than solutions.

Clicking as a team

The focus is on whether the visitors from Kolkata can continue to execute their game-plan and dictate the flow in a must-win situation.

Kolkata Knight Riders, under Gambhir, has created a set-up where players are pulling in the same direction.

Seven victories in 12 league games so far without having any of its players among the top five run-getters or wicket-takers in IPL-IV is indicative of teamwork.

Confidence in Abdulla

Left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla has enjoyed the skipper's confidence and made a mark in his four-over spells.

The DYP stadium is home ground for Abdulla — he represents the DYP Sports Academy in local tournaments.

The wicket has turn and bounce, so Abdulla — who is also a useful lower-order bat — can be a handful in familiar surroundings and helpful conditions.

Domestic talent

Manoj Tiwary is another domestic player in the KKR ranks who has risen to the challenge in the IPL. Injuries and bad form affected his confidence earlier, but now nightmares of the past have been forgotten by this dasher.

The presence of Jacques Kallis, Eoin Morgan, Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan in the batting order permits him more space to give vent to his attacking instincts.

Yusuf Pathan due

Yusuf Pathan is due for a big knock. Inclusion in the Indian squad for the West Indies may infuse confidence in him.

Knight Riders values his utility as an off-spinner too and may be tempted to open the bowling with him in case left-hander Jesse Ryder takes first strike for Pune Warriors.

Rahul Sharma (16 wickets from 12 matches) has proved to be a good pick for Pune.

The low-key, lanky leg-spinner can use the remaining games to carry on questioning batsmen in his own way, as his team finds its way up the table in the future.

Perhaps the newcomers can learn a thing or two from KKR, which seems to have metamorphosed from a controversial bunch in the first three years into a formidable force in IPL-IV, and is in contention for the play-offs.

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