RCB VS KKR: RCB seek the Kohli-ABD show to counter Russell Storm
At six weeks, the IPL can seem like a short tournament. But if you get on a losing run – the kind Royal Challengers Bangalore are in right now – even six weeks can seem like an eternity.
But not all is lost for Virat Kohli and Royal Challengers. In the past, teams have come back from five losses to reach the playoffs, and even redeemed themselves from 0-5 behind to win the tournament. So a win and the momentum it brings could turn things for Royal Challengers.
There are too many questions surrounding Royal Challengers. Does their bowling make opponents fear? Probably not, and we saw that in their game against Sunrisers Hyderabad, where two world-class openers made maximum use of a below-par attack. As for their batting, Royal Challengers have not fielded an unchanged opening combination so far, and their overseas options have not yet fired.
Shimron Hetmyer, who has fallen three times to the ball turning away this season, may be the first name out of the XI for their match against Kolkata Knight Riders. Knight Riders normally bowl 12 overs of spin and one of Royal Challengers’ domestic batsmen could be a better choice than Hetmyer. The team combination and the resultant losses haven’t helped them settle in on a definite XI. A sorted XI is a far cry, with them having had three different opening pairs in four games. The over-reliance on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers has hurt them with the pair not firing to the potential. The death bowling continues to be a nagging issue with them going just under 10 this season, as compared to over ten in the tournament as a whole.
Not only are Royal Challengers trying to avoid a fifth-straight loss in the season, they’re also looking to stop Knight Riders from winning a fifth straight match against them. Knight Riders have lost just one game so far and that, too, was close. Nitish Rana has collected two Man-of-the-Match awards. Andre Russell has been good with the ball, and destructive with the bat. Robin Uthappa has found form, and Kuldeep Yadav has shown he can help Knight Riders defend nearly anything.
KKR, on the other hand, could be hurting from the loss that they were dealt with in the Super Over against Delhi Capitals – their first this season in three games. Kagiso Rabada showcased why he is regarded as such a prodigy with his yorker to Andre Russell, who has been KKR’s star consistently so far this season, was celebrated as the “ball of the tournament” even.
Russell is among the top three of the highest run-scorers this season, and has single-handedly kept KKR in the contest when they were found wanting, with bat more than ball, striking at a massive 248.44 and averaging 79.50. While Russell has held his end, KKR are gradually coming into the mould of shaping a team with personnel that can deliver in key moments. The likes of Nitish Rana, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik and Kuldeep Yadav have stood up in various situations to bail their side out of trouble. Their only worry though, remains the opening partnership of Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn, with the Australian seemingly unable to get going.
While KKR have little to worry about despite having conceded 180-plus in three games, all eyes will be on RCB when they return for a string of home games starting with KKR on Friday (April 5), they could do with some respite from the quandary of combination to start off. They are running out of time. And their fans, patience. If they must turn things around, the start of it will have to be against KKR. However, even the stats gods are stacked against them, with the visitors having won the last three encounters between the two sides at the venue.
Knight Riders enter the game as massive favourites, but they’ll know that as long as Kohli leads Royal Challengers, the team will never throw the towel.
RCB: Parthiv Patel, Moeen Ali, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Shimron Hetmyer/Tim Southee, Marcus Stoinis, Washington Sundar, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal
Sunil Narine is “good to go” in Piyush Chawla’s words. He will slot right back in if it’s the case in place of Nikhil Naik. KKR are unlikely to make further changes.
KKR: Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik , Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Prasidh Krishna