In Form Challengers Clash With Shaky Starting Knights
Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah
Time: 8 PM IST
Of the 9 T20Is played at this venue, 3 have been won by the team chasing, and 6 by the team defending. Sharjah’s flat batting wicket in the tournament has seen some massive totals being posted and with the batting line ups of the teams in this match, expect no less. The pitch has been made ideal for stroke making, but also gives something for the bowlers to play with - spinners and pacers alike.
Head To Head:
RCB and KKR have played against each other on 12 occasions and things are all square between the two with 6 wins apiece. This stat clearly shows the competitive nature that this fixture has had in the past, but things could turn out to be different with each new season of the IPL. With Kohli and Gambhir leading the respective sides, we have the prospective future captain facing off against the ex-prospective future captain. Things have been known to get heated between the two in the past, and it only adds that extra edge to the fixture.
RCB won their previous match convincingly with an all round performance against MI. The bowlers managed to keep the total small and within the reach of the batsmen; with Chahal being the star of the attack. Though the batting faced a slump in the initial overs, Parthiv Patel and AB de Villiers played intelligently to take them across the line.
KKR lost against DD in their previous outing thanks to the heroics of JP Duminy and stand-in captain Dinesh Karthik. The batsmen put up a middling total and the bowling worked past most Delhi batsmen but could not close the game in the end, resulting in a win for the Daredevils.
Preview Of The Teams:
RCB have managed to win both their matches comprehensively without the services of the talismanic Chris Gayle who is out with a sore back. However, the superstar from the Caribbean could well be set for a return to play against the IPL team he played for earlier. With Parthiv Patel showing composure even in tough situations, the prospects are bright for the RCB top order. AB de Villiers too spent valuable time in the middle in the previous game and was impressive in the way he calmly negated the threats Mumbai’s bowlers posed.
In the bowling department, Yuzvendra Chahal has been the surprise package. The uncapped leg spinner from Haryana has taken the tournament by storm with his economical bowling and discipline with variations. Varun Aaron, Mitchell Starc and Albie Morkel have also looked good to take care of the pace bowling.
KKR have blown hot and cold in their start - winning the first match and losing the next. The form of captain Gautam Gambhir is easily their biggest concern after he was dismissed for ducks in both matches. Manish Pandey has been doing a sterling job at no.3 and Uthappa has stamped his authority too. Yusuf Pathan must start firing again as soon as possible to get out of the long run of poor form and to repay the faith that KKR have showed in him. In Suryakumar Yadav, KKR have found someone who can come in and start striking from the outset to provide an extravagant flourish to the end of the innings. The bowling looks a bit one dimensional with a lot resting on Sunil Narine. Despite of the presence of bowlers like Morne Morkel, they have not managed to do much.
Virat Kohli is arguably the most in-form player in the modern game. In the first match he showed his technique, but the second match proved to be a bad outing on a personal level. He would be raring to get out there and make amends by scoring some valuable runs for the team. It being the birthday of the legend, Sachin Tendulkar today and also the anniversary of the famous ‘Desert Storm’ knock he played in Sharjah, Kohli will want to emulate the same class that his idol did.
Look no further than the wicket-taking Sunil Narine when talking of the key player for KKR. The mystery spinner rarely fails to deliver with his accurate and miserly bowling. With the variations at his command and a slightly unusual action, Narine is someone who can change the match on his own. If Narine has a good day, then it means trouble for the opposition and vice versa.