The latest sensation of the IPL Venkatesh Iyer’s footwork or absence is being tested by a tough test against the sharp googlies bowled by Ravi Bishnoi on Friday.

Knights all-rounder Venkatesh caught everyone’s attention with his fearless strokeplay against real pace, but Bishnoi’s wrist spin has been the biggest trouble in the business in the last two editions.

If there is any intention to keep KL Rahul’s Punjab Kings afloat, it will be the biggest match-up in the game.

After the loss to Mumbai, Rahul admitted that his team did not play well under pressure and needed to fight better.

Poor performance from the middle order also hit them hard as only Rahul (422) and his opening partner Mayank Agarwal (332) found some form.

‘Universe boss’ Chris Gayle, who scored 193 runs from 10 games, was the biggest disappointment.

Similarly, Nicholas Pooran, the highest rated West Indies dasher, was able to score only 70 runs in 10 knockouts that summed up the Punjab Kings ’struggles.

As both Shah Rukh Khan and Deepak Hooda did not take advantage of the opportunities available so far, Indian talent did not come to the party as far as batting was concerned.

There are so many batting downfalls and it can be a challenge for these players to face Sunil Narine and Varun Chakraborty on a slow track.

Eight overs from the premier spinners can go a long way in determining the fate of a match.

There were problems in the bowling department in Punjab as Bishnoi (9 wicket economy rate 6.16) could not bother the opposing batsmen.

Mohammad Shami (14 wickets, 7.68) and Arshadeep Singh (13 wickets, 7.64) took wickets but leaked runs at the time of death in the recent match against Mumbai Indians.

For KKR, Venkatesh’s (126 runs at 144 plus strike rate) skill on spin is not yet a topic of discussion, but it will be interesting to see if he can get out of the first spell of Shami and Arshadeep. Also, it will be interesting to see how he confronts Bishnoi and left arm spinner Harpreet Brar during the middle overs.

Venkatesh will definitely put up a strong show during next year’s big IPL auction.

KKR also made a right move by sending Nitish Rana up the order as he is a much better player in spin bowling‌ than his captain Eoin Morgan.

The strategy paid dividends when they won over Delhi Capitals earlier in the tournament.

Teams

Kolkata Knight Riders: Ion Morgan (capt), Dinesh Karthik, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Karun Nair, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Shubhman Gill, Harbhajan Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lucky Ferguson, Pawan Negi, M Prasi. Warrior, Shivam Dubey, Tim Southee, Vaibhav Arora, Varun Chakraborty, Andre Russell, Ben Cutting, Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer, Sheldon Jackson, Tim Seafert

Punjab Kings: KL Rahul (capt), Mayank Agarwal, Arshadeep Singh, Ishan Porel, Shahrukh Khan, Mohammad Shami, Nathan Ellis, Adil Rashid, Murugan Ashwin, Harpreet Brar, Moises Henriques, Chris Jordan, Singh, Iden Nalkande, Prabhasimran Singh, Ravi Bishnoi, Utkarsh Singh, Fabian Allen, Saurabh Kumar, Jalaj Saxena.

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