There’s a reason why Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) are at the bottom of the table in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL). Both the teams are thriving on individual brilliance rather than a collective team effort.
While Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers have been holding the fort for the Bangalore outfit, Kolkata has been dependent on Andre Russell to see them through, time and again.
The similarities don’t end there. Both the teams have taken the least number of wickets in the tournament with RCB picking up 36 while KKR has 30. As far as fielding is concerned, both have dropped catches at crucial stages and have leaked plenty on the field.
Just a few days back, KKR was second placed at the points table but due to three consecutive losses, the team is sixth at the moment with a 50% win rate from eight games.
RCB, on the other hand, has a solitary win from the eight games that they have played so far. As the teams gear up for the second-leg encounter, there are certain issues that both camps need to address.
Apart from the top three, RCB middle-order has collapsed time and again. Despite playing eight games, the team’s middle-order isn’t certain and one can expect changes in every game.
After trying Shimron Hetmyer and Shivam Dube, the responsibility has been given to overseas all-rounders Moeen Ali and Marcus Stoinis. While Ali was exceptional in the last game against Mumbai Indians as he scored a fifty and picked up two wickets, Stoinis has to contribute more to the team’s cause.
It is given that the onus of scoring runs will be on Virat Kohli (278 runs) and AB de Villiers (307 runs), but other batsmen need to step up as Kohli and de Villiers can have an off day as well.
The bowling department will be strengthened by Dale Steyn who will be part of the team for this fixture. Prior to this, RCB was playing with only three foreigners but Steyn’s return is a big boost for the franchise. He has been included in the team as a replacement for injured speedster Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Indian pacers Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj haven’t been able to contain the opposition. Kohli can swap Yadav or Siraj for Steyn’s services and plug the gap.
Yuzvendra Chahal is the third highest wicket-taker with 13 so far. Kohli’s go-to man, Chahal has a crucial role to play as KKR struggled against CSK’s leg-spinner Imran Tahir.
The Kolkata franchise had four wins from their five games. However, three of the wins came because of Andre Russell. In the last three games, the team was beaten away as well as home.
Both CSK and Delhi Capitals have won both their encounters against KKR. If the team wants to finish in top-4, the game against RCB is a crucial one. So much so, that that the team’s fate in the tournament will depend on today’s outcome.
Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn have had an average season so far. The overseas pair would want to get the better of their favourite opposition as Lynn and Narine scored their fastest fifties against RCB in the past.
Just like RCB, the middle-order of KKR is also a cause of worry. Nitish Rana started the season in brilliant fashion but after two-three initials games, he has failed to impress.
KKR’s mainstay for several seasons, Robin Uthappa has been struggling this season. While he has scored 211 runs, the pace at which he has made those runs, isn’t suited for the T20 format.
Shubman Gill’s form and talent is being wasted by the KKR management. The stylish right-handed batsman has scored at the top of the order whenever he has been given an opportunity. The team should keep Gill at three and use Rinku Singh in the middle-order.
Russell’s injury scare is a big concern. The 30-year-old Jamaican was hit on the neck while practising in the nets. If he isn’t available, KKR will be in all sorts of trouble.
Skipper Dinesh Karthik has struggled this season with just 111 runs. He needs to lead from the front and make better decisions on the field if KKR wants to qualify for the playoffs.
Kuldeep Yadav, another player who is in the World Cup squad, has been in awful form with the ball. Yadav, who has only taken three wickets from eight games, would want to prove a point against Kohli and de Villiers.
KKR has the weakest bowling attack in the tournament. The bowlers have not only failed to break the partnerships but have also not been able to limit the opposition from scoring 180+.
After Lockie Ferguson and Harry Gurney’s disappointing outings, the management might use debutant Matt Kelly who has been roped in for injured Anrich Nortje.
Head to Head: 24 (Including one Champions League match)
KKR: 15 RCB: 9
RCB: Virat Kohli (C), Parthiv Patel (wk), AB de Villiers, Moeen Ali, Marcus Stoinis, Akshdeep Nath, Pawan Negi, Yuzvendra Chahal, Dale Steyn, Navdeep Saini, Umesh Yadav/Mohammed Siraj
KKR: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (C and wk), Robin Uthappa/Rinku Singh, Andre Russell/Carlos Brathwaite, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Matt Kelly.
(Featured Image: FB/KKR)
About the Author
Wasn’t and still isn’t certain about anything except that cricket is his first love. If he is not talking or writing about sports then he must be travelling. These two things help in restoring sanity in this insane world.