Cape Town: After their morale-sapping 52-run defeat against Delhi Daredevils, IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders will look to bounce back when they take on Auckland in a Group A match of the Champions League Twenty20 on Monday.
KKR's bowlers did a decent job to restrict Delhi to 160 for eight, but it was the failure of the batsmen which would rattle them, especially the top-order which contributed three ducks to the total. Opener Manvinder Bisla, Brendon McCullum and skipper Gautam Gambhir all came a cropper against Delhi and they would have to do a lot of soul-searching before they take the field against Auckland.
The fact that Kolkata could score only 108 for 7 in 20 overs, despite batting deep, will surely bother Gambhir and the onus would be on him to lead from the front, like he did during IPL 5 early this year.
Auckland, on the other hand, had a dream start in the tournament. The New Zealanders notched up two convincing victories during their qualifying matches. They opened their campaign with a six-wicket win over Sialkot Stallions, before taming Hampshire by eight wickets.
Kyle Mills and Andre Adams have so far led the pace attack well, while left-arm spinner Ronnie Hira has troubled the batsmen and picked up four wickets so far in the tournament. In the batting department, opener Martin Guptill has led from the front by scoring valuable runs. His partner Lou Vincent has also got starts and he would look to convert them.
However, it is former Pakistan allrounder Azhar Mahmood who has been their most valuable player so far. He picked up a five-for against Hampshire in their last match and also scored a match-wining unbeaten 55 and would surely look to continue in the same vein on Monday.
Auckland Aces: 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Lou Vincent, 3 Azhar Mahmood, 4 Anaru Kitchen, 5 Gareth Hopkins (C & WC), 6 Colin Munro, 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Ronnie Hira, 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Andre Adams, 11 Michael Bates
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Gautam Gambhir (c), 2 Manvinder Bisla (Wk), 3 Brendon McCullum, 4 Jacques Kallis, 5 Manoj Tiwary, 6 Yusuf Pathan, 7 Rajat Bhatia, 8 Brett Lee, 9 Pradeep Sangwan, 10 Laxmipathy Balaji, 11 Sunil Narine