The Kolkata Knight Riders will be out to continue their impressive start to the 2017 Indian Premier League when they host the Gujarat Lions on Friday.
With four wins from their first five matches in the competition, Gautam Gambhir's men have been one of the standout outfits in this year's tournament. The form of the skipper and particularly Manish Pandey, have been key to their excellent results to this point.
The Lions, meanwhile, need a big win to kick-start their season, as they head into this one rooted to the bottom of the standings.
Here's a look at the odds for Friday's showdown, the upcoming schedule and all the information you need on where to catch the action.
|Kolkata vs. Gujarat: IPL Odds|
|Kolkata - 8/11||Gujarat - 11/10|
|Brendon McCullum (GL) - 11/2||Robin Uthappa (KKR) - 13/2|
|Gautam Gambhir (KKR) - 5/1||Jason Roy (GL) - 7/1|
|Suresh Raina (GL) - 13/2||Manish Pandey (KKR) - 7/1|
|Sunil Narine (KKR) - 5/1||Kuldeep Yadav (KKR) - 6/1|
|Andrew Tye (GL) - 5/1||Umesh Yadav (KKR) - 6/1|
|Dwayne Bravo (GL) - 6/1||Ravindra Jadeja (GL) - 13/2|
|IPL 2017: Schedule|
|Saturday, April 22||11:30 a.m./4 p.m.||Rising Pune Supergiant vs. Sunrisers Hyderabad|
|Saturday, April 22||3:30 p.m./8 p.m.||Mumbai Indians vs. Delhi Daredevils|
|Sunday, April 23||11:30 a.m./4 p.m.||Gujarat Lions vs. Kings XI Punjab|
|Sunday, April 23||3:30 p.m./8 p.m.||Kolkata Knight Riders vs. Royal Challengers Bangalore|
|Monday, April 24||3:30 p.m./8 p.m.||Mumbai Indians vs. Rising Pune Supergiant|
Figures courtesy of OddsChecker and are accurate as of 4:30 p.m. (BST) on Thursday.
Kolkata vs. Gujarat Preview
With Gambhir leading the charge, the Knight Riders have become one of the most dependable teams in the IPL and the early signs suggest they're a team ready to fight for another title, having won this event in 2012 and 2014.
An emphatic 10-wicket win over the Lions in their opening fixture set the tone for this Kolkata side. Granted, they came up just short against the Mumbai Indians, but there's been a composure about this group whether they're chasing or defending a total.
With the bat, Pandey has been key to their fortunes, hammering some important runs in the middle order. Per cricket writer Freddie Wilde, he's been a big asset for Kolkata:
Freddie Wilde @fwildecricket
Pandey, with 221 runs, is now the leading run-scorer this season. He has scored those runs at 9.02 runs per over. #IPL2017-4-17 14:15:17
Although the absence of Chris Lynn at the top of the order is a massive blow for the Knight Riders, Gambhir is very experienced in this format of the game.
The 35-year-old is so adept at assessing the situation of a game when opening. At times Gambhir can be watchful, while he's also capable of injecting some acceleration into his play when the situation demands. The captain is among the most reliable players in the competition.
Still, while he rarely looks flustered, he admitted he was a little nervous as his side got over the line with the penultimate ball against Delhi Daredevils last time out:
Gautam Gambhir @GautamGambhir
Never mind a few more grey hair, at least @KKRiders won! Phewww!!! Well done team especially @iamyusufpathan @im_manishpandey @IPL #IPL102017-4-17 15:20:04
While Kolkata continue to flourish, Gujarat have lacked a spark in the early matches of the tournament.
Indeed, the 10-wicket loss in their first match sapped the confidence from this group of players. The quality is there for this side to bounce back, though, especially in their batting lineup, which is almost a who's who of big hitters.
Brendon McCullum is one, and although the Lions suffered a 21-run defeat in their last match at the hands of Royal Challengers Bangalore, he struck a blockbuster 72 from 44 balls. Per the Cricket Professor, when the veteran is allowed to get forward, he's so dangerous:
The Cricket Prof. @CricProf
McCullum has scored at a run rate of 17.28 RPO when playing off the front foot in this innings. #IPL2017-4-18 17:09:45
If Gujarat are going to find form they will need their bowlers to improve. Last time out experienced men like Ravindra Jadeja and Dhawal Kulkarni were hammered all over the park by the Challengers batsmen. They need to be tighter and more inventive against the Knight Riders.
Even so, there feels like a sizeable gulf between these two teams at the moment. Kolkata are confident, while the Lions look dependent on one innings or one spell of genius from one of their star men. Subsequently, it's difficult to make them favourites on the road in what should be an intriguing match.
Prediction: Kolkata Win