Pune: On a roll after three back-to-back wins, the resurgent Rising Pune Supergiant will face a tough challenge when they take on two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders in an IPL encounter here on Wednesday. After languishing in the bottom-half of the table initially, Supergiant notched up three successive wins to grab the fourth place. Last night, Pune eked out a three-run victory over Mumbai Indians in a thrilling encounter, thanks to some effective bowling by Ben Stokes and Jaydev Unadkat at the death.
Opener Rahul Tripathi’s batting has also boosted their campaign. The 26-year-old from Maharashtra came up with scores of 31, 59 and 45 in the last three matches. Former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni too showed his vintage form with a sparkling 61 not out against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Skipper Steve Smith and Ajinkya Rahane have also contributed from time to time and Manoj Tiwary has also played a few useful cameos. In the bowling department, spinner Imran Tahir has taken 10 wickets so far to emerge as the team’s best bowler, while Stokes and Unadkat snapped six and five wickets respectively so far. Kolkata, on the other hand, have been pretty consistent this season and are placed second in the points table with two losses and five wins in seven matches.
Gautam Gambhir led from the front with two half-centuries in the initial phase and when he failed to contribute, Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey have stepped up to do the bulk of scoring. Yusuf Pathan also produced a 39-ball 59 against Delhi Daredevils to rescue his team once. So overall, KKR boasts of a formidable batting line-up.
During their last outing however, it was the KKR bowlers who produced a fantastic show to bundle out RCB for 49 — the lowest score in IPL’s history. Chris Woakes has taken 10 wickets in the seven matches that he has played, while Nathan Coulter-Nile has scalped eight after featuring in only three games for Kolkata. Umesh Yadav too has seven wickets from five outings. Among the spinners, slow left-arm chinaman Kuldeep Yadav has taken six wickets in as many matches for Knight Riders.