Smarting from successive defeats, an under-pressure Kolkata Knight Riders will look to regain their momentum and remain in the hunt for the knockout stage when they clash with laggards Royal Challengers Bangalore in an IPL encounter here tomorrow. Kolkata Kight Riders, who suffered losses against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rising Pune Supergiant in the last two matches, need two wins out of the remaining three matches to seal their berth in the play-off. The two-time champions are placed second in the table with 14 points out of 11 matches, followed by RPS and Sunrisers at 14 and 13 points.
During their last meeting, KKR had handed out a 82-run defeat to RCB after bowling them out for 49 — the lowest score in IPL history — and Gautam Gambhir’s men would look to repeat the performance tomorrow. In the next two matches, KKR would be facing a resurgent Kings XI Punjab, who registered a thrilling 19-run victory against RCB last night in a low-scoring game, and a formidable Mumbai Indians, who were the first team to qualify for play-off with 16 points, in 10 matches.
Rookie batsman Rahul Tripathi of RPS played an electrifying match-winning innings of 93 to stand in the way of KKR after they were restricted to 155 for eight. Gambhir’s side lost by four wickets and the defeat could be a reality check for the Kolkata side as their top order collapsed in the last match, while Colin de Grandhomme’s 36 and Manish Pandey’s 37 saved the blushes.
KKR so far has been cashing in on Sunil Narine’s hit-and-miss experiment at the top. When Narine gets going, there is no stopping them as more often than not Gambhir and Robin Uthappa have capitalised on the starts.
But in the event of a failure of the trio, the likes of Yusuf Pathan must take up responsibility. Pandey have been in good form but Sheldon Jackson has not yet delivered and Jharkhand’s Ishank Jaggi might just get a look-in. RCB, on the other hand, have been the biggest disappointment of this year’s IPL. They have been bowled out four times this season and are placed at bottom of the table with five points in 12 matches.
With their confidence torn to shreds after their capitulation last night against KXIP, it will be a big task for skipper Virat Kohli to instill some self-belief in the team, who would be playing for pride with an aim to finish on a winning note in their remaining matches. With nothing at stake as the team is already out of he tournament, Kohli might be inclined to give some of the youngsters a chance.
After the high of last international season, the IPL has been kind of a setback for skipper Kohli with his team letting him down pretty badly. Unlike the previous IPLs, RCB’s batting has been the biggest disappointment with the likes of Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Kohli not firing enough.
There has been stray performances but nothing collective. Kedar Jadhav has also been inconsistent after having a good outings for India this year against England and Australia. The fringe India players like Mandeep Singh, Stuart Binny also have let down the popular franchise.
The only silver lining for RCB has been the performance of their two leg-spinners spinners – Samuel Badree (9 wickets) and Yuzvendra Chahal (13 wickets). However their pacers have been far from impressive with Sreenath Arvind (5), Adam Milne (3) and Aniket Choudhary (4) going for a lot of runs.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (C), Darren Bravo, Yusuf Pathan, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa (WK), Umesh Yadav, Suryakumar Yadav, Ankit Rajpoot, Trent Boult, Piyush Chawla, Nathan Coulter Nile, Colin De Grandhomme, Rishi Dhawan, Sayan Ghosh, Shaikb Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Ishank Jaggi, Kuldeep Yadav, Chris Woakes, Chris Lynn, Manish Pandey.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Yuzvendra Chahal, Harshal Patel, Mandeep Singh, Adam Milne, Vishnu Vinod, Sreenath Arvind, Kedar Jadhav (WK), Shane Watson, Stuart Binny, Samuel Badree, Iqbal Abdulla, Travis Head, Sachin Baby, Avesh Khan, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tymal Mills, Aniket Chaudhary, Praveen Dubey, Billy Stanlake.