Knights look to bounce back against Auckland

Low on morale after a 52-run drubbing at the hands of Delhi Daredevils on Saturday night, Indian Premier Lea­gue champions Kolkata Knight Riders will look to bounce back when they take on rampaging qualifiers Auckland Aces in a Group ‘A’ match of the Champions League Twenty20 on Monday.

Kolkata had a disappointing start to their campaign after they were mauled by Delhi. Their bowlers did a decent job to restrict Delhi to 160 for eight but it was the failure of the batsmen rattled them, especially the top order which contributed one run to the total.

Opener Manvinder Bisla (1), Brendon McCullum (0) and skipper Gautam Gambhir (0) all came a cropper against Delhi and they would have to do a lot of soul-searching before they take the field on Monday.

The fact that Kolkata could score only 108 for seven 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 V earlier 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 but he would look to convert them.

However, it is former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood who has been their most valuable player so far. He picked up a five-for against Hampshire and also scored an unbeaten 55 and he would surely look to continue in the same vein.

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