Kolkata, Chennai lock horns in battle of resurgence

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/i/iplchennaisuperkings.jpg' class='caption'> A no-holds-barred battle is on the cards when Kolkata Knight Riders cross sword with Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League on Saturday.

Updated: April 28, 2009 06:31 IST
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Cape Town:

With two wounded sides smarting from narrow defeats in their respective previous outings, a no-holds-barred battle is on the cards when Kolkata Knight Riders cross sword with Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League here on Saturday.

It has been a rollercoaster ride for the Kolkata side right from the start of the tournament. After a shaky start to their campaign following the defeat against last year's laggards Deccan Chargers, the Knight Riders bounced back in their next game against Kings XI Punjab.

John Buchanan's wards, however, could not maintain the tempo and was pipped by Rajasthan Royals via 'Super Over' in a see-saw encounter here on Thursday night.

Earlier the same day in Durban, Chennai Super Kings looked primed to chase down the highest score of the tournament before managing to throw away the match to concede their second defeat of the league.

On paper, Kolkata has a devastating opening combination but while Chris Gayle has lived up to the expectations with blistering knocks in the last two matches, skipper Brendon McCullum's (1, 21, 3) bat has not done the talking so far.

The middle-order also looks lacklustre with Brad Hodge, Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Moises Henriques being out of form.

The Knight Riders, however, will take heart from Sourav Ganguly's form, especially after the former skipper's gutsy 46 last night which took them close to a victory.

Chennai, on the other hand, doesn't have any issues with the opening pair where Matthew Hayden is in red-hot form and Parthiv Patel content playing the second fiddle.

Down the order, Suresh Raina is also in good nick even though the same could not be said of Andrew Flintoff.

Much was expected from the talismanic English all-rounder in his debut season but Flintoff is yet to set alight the stage with the kind of batting fireworks he is known for.

Not that Chennai skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been able to do that either. Much to the disappointment of his legion of fans, Dhoni has been largely subdued so far in the tournament and would be expected to lead from the front when he takes the field in tomorrow's crucial encounter.

In the bowling department, Manpreet Gony and Lakshmipathy Balaji have done a decent job with the ball even though Flintoff proved costly.

In contrast, McCullum doesn't have the some gunpowder in his arsenal with Ishant Sharma struggling with his line and length and Ajit Agarkar failing to impress.

Meanwhile, it would be an interesting battle of one-upmanship between the Sri Lankan spin twins of Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis who would don different jerseys on Saturday.

For Chennai, Muralitharan has been among the wickets and proved difficult to score off. Mendis, on the other hand, did well in the match against the Royals before Yusuf Pathan's 'Super Over' heroics spoiled his party.

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