KKR have had a lot of ups and downs throughout this IPL but still managed to qualify for the playoffs. They were table toppers after 5 games into the league but could not retain their position after their loss to the Gujarat lions. They were not able to gain the top position again. They slipped off from the second position after losing their last two league matches to KXIP and MI.
KKR have tried various team combinations throughout the contest. Their opening pair has been the spot with the most trial and error. With Gautam Gambhir as one of their permanent openers, they have had to face a lot of hitches to find his partner. KKR started with Chris Lynn alongside Gambhir and he did not fail to impress with over 120 runs in 2 matches. But he then suffered a shoulder injury which made him warm the bench for the next 2-3 weeks. Narine then came to the rescue of KKR by successfully supporting Gambhir and helping KKR for a speedy start.
After Chris Lynn’s recovery, KKR played a gamble of starting with Narine and Lynn and shifting Gambhir to the 3rd number against RCB. This gamble seemed to fair well for KKR as they both scored half-centuries in the match and KKR successfully chased 159 with 5 overs to spare. But since then, their performance has been questionable. Lynn, however, has been able to maintain his supreme form with 291 runs in just 6 innings, but Narine has not been the best of his partners. Uthappa was sent to open with Lynn in the eliminator match versus SRH but failed to perform at the top.
We would like to see Lynn and Gambhir open in this do or die match for the KKR counting on their recent form. Uthappa has been successful this season at no. 3 and that is where we expect to see him today. The international players should include on top Nathan Coulter-Nile with his destructive bowling performance against the SRH in the eliminator. Narine would be the second pick as he is able to deliver with the bat as well as the ball. Woakes has had a good season over Boult this season so we like to see him on fire against MI.
Umesh Yadav being in and out of the team in the recent past has still been able to retain his wicket taking form as he showed against SRH. He should be picked along with Coulter-Nile and Woakes to bolster the pace attack. Grandhomme has not been able to perform at nervous situations in important matches so he could be dropped below Lynn in the lineup missing the match.
Another big discussion could be the choice of the second spinner by the KKR side. They have Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav in their squad. Kuldeep has played in 12 matches this season with 12 wickets and Chawla in just 5 matches with 4 wickets. They both are equally potent to play in the qualifier. But KKR played the more experienced Chawla in the eliminator and he was successful in sending back the dreaded Warner. KKR should go with the momentum and play Chawla in the qualifier as they would not want anything to change from the eliminator.
Probable XI: Gautam Gambhir (c), Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Woakes, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Sunil Narine and Suryakumar Yadav