Kolkata Knight Riders and Perth Scorchers have both yet to win a game in this season’s T20 cricket Champions League and the fast-paced nature of the format means that this is a crucial match (4.30pm BST, Wednesday).
Defeat for either team will effectively end their campaign for another year and that should result in a close and possibly a cagey contest as the betting below suggests.
Gautam Gambhir’s Knight Riders have been truly disappointing in this tournament so far and, having taken the IPL title earlier this year, many were expecting them to follow that up by claiming the CLT20 trophy. However, an opening defeat at the hands of fellow Indian side the Delhi Daredevils was followed by an equally emphatic loss against Auckland and it might be hard to justify their tag as favourites for this match.
However, Perth were equally disappointing against the Titans at the weekend and this leaves a game that is hard to predict.
On paper at least, KKR have the strongest side but they are struggling in both the batting and bowling departments. The problem may be that Gambhir’s men are relying too heavily on overseas imports such as Brendon McCullum and Sunil Narine while the home based players have been struggling to offer any assistance.
McCullum scored 40 against Auckland but the only support he received came from opener Manvinder Bisla who made 38. Their side’s total of 137 always looked to be below par and the seven wicket loss came with more than two overs to spare.
New Zealand’s McCullum is the top ranked batsman in T20 cricket and he will obviously be crucial once again. But if the Knight Riders are to mount or chase a challenging total then the likes of Gambhir, Manoj Tiwary and Jacques Kallis will have to perform better.
A similar problem exists in the bowling department where the skipper relies heavily on Narine’s mystery spin. The West Indian may be one of the most penetrative and economical bowlers in the business but he needs support from Kallis, Shakib Al Hasan and Lakshmipathy Balaji.
When Perth lost to the Titans on Saturday, they looked to be one of the weakest sides in the tournament. This is an ageing squad with several players over the age of 35 including Herschelle Gibbs, Simon Katich and Brad Hogg – all of whom are struggling for form.
Aussie all-rounder Mitchell March made 52 in that match and together with his brother Shaun, the younger Aussie men may have to step up and score the runs needed. The Perth bowling also looked weak at the weekend and it would be no surprise to see another veteran, Paul Collingwood, restored to the side ahead of this match to bowl his nagging off-cutters.
While both teams have been disappointing so far, KKR seem to be underachieving while the Scorchers may just be a weaker unit. With that in mind, the stronger Kolkata side should take this fixture by a comfortable margin.