Their house in complete disorder after seven defeats from eight outings, the Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore will be desperate for a win to stay afloat in the IPL when they take on Kolkata Knight Riders in Kolkata on Friday. It would be a great opportunity for the Bangalore outfit to post a win against an opponent who is low on confidence having slipped from second to the sixth position in the points table after suffering three straight defeats.
In fact, to make matters worse, Kolkata’s dangerman Andre Russell has suffered an injury scare after being hit on his left shoulder by a bouncer during their practice. Russell was already suffering from niggles ahead of their last match against Chennai Super Kings and had failed to fire for the first time, exposing KKR’s over-reliance on the West Indies big hitter. Russell had left the Royal Challengers in shambles in their first leg exchange, smashing seven sixes en route to his 13-ball 48 not out as KKR had chased down a huge 206.
It remains to be seen if the Jamaican recovers in time. His absence would be a big void for KKR, who are looking to return to winning ways and reignite their campaign. To make the playoffs, KKR needs to win at least four of their remaining six matches, of which three are at home.
However, even KKR will fancy their chances and seek to get back on track against a lowly RCB facing a do-or-die situation. RCB’s star duo of Kohli and AB de Villiers have been in sublime form but the team has not clicked as a whole with their pace bowling being a major letdown.
While youngster Navdeep Saini has been impressive, senior pro-Umesh Yadav has turned out to be a big flop, bagging two wickets at an expensive economy of 9.26. With South African veteran pacer Dale Steyn ready to take charge as an injury replacement for Nathan Coulter-Nile midway into the IPL, the pace department will hope to get their sting back.
Kohli and de Villiers will look to fire in unison against a team whose bowling has failed to click collectively. The KKR pace department has looked mediocre, while their famed spinners have struggled to get wickets on the batting-friendly Eden conditions here.
Meanwhile, all eyes will also be on KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik who has grabbed a surprise World Cup berth ahead of young wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant. Karthik has only one half-century and an average of 18.50 so far this season.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (c), Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Nikhil Naik, Joe Denly, Shrikant Mundhe, Nitish Rana, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Harry Gurney, Matt Kelly, KC Cariappa and Yarra Prithviraj.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (capt), Parthiv Patel, AB de Villiers, Colin de Grandhomme, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Moeen Ali, Shimron Hetmyer, Dale Steyn, Shivam Dube, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Devdutt Padikkal, Himmat Singh, Milind Kumar, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Heinrich Klaasen, Pawan Negi, Washington Sundar, Akshdeep Nath, Prayas Ray Barman, Kulwant Khejroliya, Tim Southee.
The match starts at 8 pm.