The Royal Challengers Bangalore take on the Kolkata Knight Riders in the second match for the double-header scheduled on Sunday. The two teams have been very expensive with the ball, and not nearly as efficient with the bat as they could be. This match is especially important for both teams, for different reasons.
KKR have fallen behind in the points table as everyone above them further consolidates their spot in the eliminators. With Rajasthan equaling them in points despite having a played a game less, KKR will not want to leave it until too late to qualify. RCB, on the other hand, has to win six of their remaining eight games to qualify, and they need to start winning now. Can KKR return to winning ways, or will RCB equal KKR with a win?
Kolkata Knight Riders
Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Dinesh Karthik (c), Robin Uthappa, Mitchell Johnson, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill, Ishank Jaggi, Nitish Rana, Vinay Kumar, Apoorv Wankhade, Rinku Singh, Shivam Mavi, Cameron Delport, Javon Searles, Tom Curran, Prasidh Krishna.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Sarfaraz Khan, Brendon McCullum, Chris Woakes, Colin de Grandhomme, Moeen Ali, Quinton de Kock, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Manan Vohra, Kulwant Khejroliya, Aniket Choudhary, Navdeep Saini, Murugan Ashwin, Mandeep Singh, Washington Sundar, Pawan Negi, Mohammed Siraj, Parthiv Patel, Aniruddha Joshi, Pavan Deshpande, Tim Southee, Corey Anderson.
Where the teams stand
Kolkata Knight Riders
KKR’s injury woes have come back to bite them hard as they accomplish one of the worst economy rates of any team this season. Losing Starc and Nagarkoti both has rendered their pace department toothless and ineffective. Their spin trio has been inconsistent too, leaving some huge responsibilities on the shoulders of their batsmen. Bringing in Mitchell Johnson for Tom Curran backfired severely in the last game as the former went for over 10 in each of his four overs. Curran is unlikely to have fared better, but he might just work his way into the team now. A marked difference between the way Karthik and Gambhir have utilised their spinners is how early they have launched Narine on their opposition. It was common to see Narine bowl in the power plays under Gambhir, while Karthik has been happy to keep him back for later. Karthik has instead preferred to use Chawla in the power plays, with largely dismaying results. It will be interesting to see how KKR rotate their bowlers after the beating they suffered in the last game, and it will be the key to any success they enjoy.
Kolkata’s batting has looked a lot less stable without Gambhir at the top. Narine has mostly been ineffective with the bat, while Lynn still looks rusty after seven games. Uthappa has blown hot and cold, leaving too much for DK and Russell to do down the order. Rana has failed to fulfil the role Pandey played for KKR over the years, and it is severely weakening their middle order. When KKR are good, they look like champions. When they’re bad, the cracks are all too easy to see. This dynamism and moodiness could easily be their downfall, or it might inspire something special.
Fantasy Picks: DK, Russell, and Narine are the obvious picks from KKR. Lynn and Uthappa are both gambles with the bat, but on a batting friendly wicket like the Chinnaswamy, they might make worthy gambles. The two spinners are a risk, while the pacers are as well. Mavi is perhaps the only pacer worth having while Chawla is a safer pick from Kuldeep.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
The Challengers have won just one of their last four games, three of which took place at home. The only win so far has come against the bottom-placed team of the league. They conceded in excess of 200 thrice out of those four games. If RCB lose, they will be the ones to finally relieve DD of the last spot on the table and occupy it themselves. If they win, they go straight to number four on the table if Rajasthan loses. With yet another game at home and two teams that are batting heavy, the pressure will be on the home side.
RCB have relied on the brilliance of the big names in their squad over playing as a cohesive unit. Kohli, and AB have been the centres of attention as always, with de Kock getting into the act in the last match. The bowling has been quite rudimentary; they have the worst economy rate of any team in this years IPL. As a result, the batsmen inevitably have to expect a big chase, or put up a huge score in excess of 180 to remain in the game. RCB do have the batting lineup for it, but the fashion of relying on them to be superhuman every game has predictably not proved to be successful.
Fantasy Picks: AB, Kohli, and de Kock are obvious picks from this side. Mandeep Singh has been in great form too. Umesh Yadav has often been brilliant with the ball, and is another must-have. Chahal has a good record at the Chinnaswamy and might be worth selecting as well.
KKR win. If Kohli and AB fail, RCB are pretty much done for.
Will the Knight Riders snag a win or could Bangalore cause the upset? Let us know in the comments and poll below.