“I have seen miracles happen with this team in the past couple of years and we all do believe in that,” remarked Shubman Gill following an imperious victory against the Chennai Super Kings. Echoing this sentiment, Umesh Yadav reiterated his captain’s optimism on Sunday. “Just as Gill mentioned, miracles can happen and we will give our best to win both our remaining games,” affirmed the Gujarat Titans’ pacer, on the eve of their game against Kolkata Knight Riders.

The previous encounter between the sides at the Narendra Modi Stadium witnessed a feat which was nothing short of a cricketing spectacle, albeit with the tables turned. Rinku Singh had sensationally smashed five sixes off the final five deliveries to lead KKR to an improbable victory . Therefore, the Titans are justified in hoping for a similarly unexpected turn of events. “Definitely, there are many possibilities. Our plan is to play our best and win both games. If we win with good margins, you never know,” Umesh remarked.

With the prospect of a team qualifying for the playoffs with 14 points still a realistic possibility, the Titans, who can achieve a maximum of 14 points, find themselves in contention. Undoubtedly, they require a stroke of luck from elsewhere so that the outcomes of other matches align in their favour. KKR have already qualified but this match presents the opportunity to add two more points and strengthen their chances of finishing in the top-two spots.

Head to head, the Titans enjoy an edge, having won one more than the Knight Riders but the Kolkata side has been one of the surprise packages of the season. “I never expected KKR to be the first team to qualify for the last 4. I thought Mumbai Indians or Chennai Super Kings would be the sides to achieve that,” Ambati Rayudu said on air after the Shreyas Iyer team beat Mumbai Indians on Saturday night.

The Knight Riders’ commanding showing has largely been due to their free-flowing, stroke-making openers – Sunil Narine and Phil Salt – and their two spinners – Narine and Varun Chakaravarthy. More authentically, five of their bowlers – Chakaravarthy (18), Harshit Rana (16), Narine (15), Andre Russell (15) and Mitchell Starc (12) – have more than 12 wickets, the only side to have such a consistent bowling line-up.

The Titans have suddenly found their mojo, after a period of lull. The captain and fellow opener, Sai Sudarshan, are in good nick and most importantly, Mohit Sharma, their dependable pacer, is back in form. And above all, they have two world class spinners in Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmed. Expect a tight contest between the in-form side and a resurgent team.

When: Gujarat Titans vs Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2024, May 13, 19:30 IST

Where: Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad

What to expect:Captain winning the toss may prefer to bowl first but the Titans have been quite inconsistent on their home ground this season. With the pitch expected to assist the batters, it should be a high scoring game unless of course, one of the world class spinners among the Titans or the KKR thinks otherwise.

Head to Head: GT 2 – 1 KKR. The last game between the sides was won miraculously by the Knight Riders with Rinku Singh doing the star-turn.

Team Watch

Gujarat Titans

Injury and availability: There are no injury concerns for the Titans.

Tactics and Match-up:David Miller will be key for the hosts in the middle and death overs when he goes up against Sunil Narine [51 runs in 37 balls and 0 dismissals] and Andre Russell [24 off 11 balls, no dismissals].

Probable XI: Shubman Gill (c), Sai Sudharsan, Shahrukh Khan, David Miller, Matthew Wade (wk), Rahul Tewatia, Rashid Khan, Noor Ahmad, Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma, Kartik Tyagi.

Kolkata Knight Riders

Injury and Availability: No injury worries for the Knight Riders.

Tactics and Match-up:Gill is usually at his best in Ahmedabad and matches up well against most KKR bowlers… except Sunil Narine [13 Runs | 12 Balls | 2 Wickets]. An early shift for the West Indies could be in the offing to offset the GT captain, who arrives fresh from a 50-ball century.

Probable XI: Philip Salt (wk), Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer, Shreyas Iyer (c), Rinku Singh, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Ramandeep Singh , Mitchell Starc, Harshit Rana, Varun Chakaravarthy

Did you know:

– Shubman Gill has scored 4 centuries and 4 50-plus scores in 16 T20 innings in Ahmedabad

– KKR have picked 33 wickets through spin – the most for a team this season

What they said:

“There are not many variations to be played in the IPL. Be it Test cricket, ODIs or T20s, the length for a new ball has always been the same. If you don’t bowl at the right length, then there will be problems.” Umesh Yadav on the importance of length in T20s

“Tactically we are similar, but technically we are slightly different.”Varun Chakaravarthy on a comparison between him and Sunil Narine.

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