RCB roll on to Ranchi for big game
Kolkata Knight Riders vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
4 pm JSCA Stadium Ranchi
After edging out the Delhi Daredevils in a close game at the Ferozshah Kotla on Friday, Virat Kohli's men travel to Ranchi to play in the city’s first ever IPL game against hosts Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday.
Sunrisers Hyderabad’s win on Saturday night put them on level with RCB at 16 points in 13 games each but RCB are way ahead on NRR. The team needs wins in the remaining games and a big margin of win will only help widen the gap and ensure a spot.
Jaydev Unadkat stole the show with his 5/25 at Delhi and will be ready to prove a point to his former franchise on Sunday. It will be a hard task, given the flat pitch at the Jharkand State Cricket Association Stadium.
Kolkata’s batting has at last seem to have found it’s rhythm with the inclusion of Ryan ten Doeschate to beef up the middle order and the line up will be an intimidating one to bowl to. Manvinder Bisla has been their best batsman, Yusuf Pathan has been consistent as opener and Gambhir and Kallis can play big innings if they get going. Manoj Tiwary hasn’t made a big contribution this year but Eoin Morgan and ten Doeschate can both be very dangerous and score almost in an AB de Villiers mode at the death.
The way in which Vinay and Ravi Rampaul were taken for runs in Delhi will worry Kohli and he will want them to get the team regular strikes on Sunday. Syed Mohammad was disappointing in Delhi but could get another chance in Ranchi where the slow pitch could help him.
Kolkata are on the back of a 46 run win over bottom placed Pune Warriors, helped by L Balaji, Sunil Narine and Rajat Bhatia. Narine remains a threat while Bhatia’s canny changes of pace have seen him take important wickets in the tournament. Iqbal Abdullah has been consistent while Balaji can exploit early swing conditions well. The good news for RCB is that Kallis is the only bowler with the pace to threaten batsmen if the pitch is as flat as expected and KKR will have to weaken their batting by playing Ryan McLaren or Brett Lee on this pitch. If Chris Gayle manages to see Kallis off and survives his fellow West Indian Narine, Ranchi might be in for a treat.
Virat Kohli roared back to form with a stupendous 99 and will want to keep that run going. Cheteshwar Pujara has shown he can make runs at a fair clip but he needs to show he can dominate bowling right from the start too. Moises Henriques and AB de Villiers have played their roles to perfection this season, consolidating and accelerating as per the game situation and Kohli will want another neat show from them. Being a local boy, Saurabh Tiwary too will be expected to make a big, comfortable contribution if he gets a chance to bat.
Chris Gayle(570 runs) needs four more runs to overtake Chennai's Michael Hussey in the race for the Orange Cap, whereas Vinay Kumar(20 wickets) needs two more dismissals to overtake Dwayne Bravo for the Purple Cap.
So going into Friday's game by RCB's current batting form, Kohli's team must inch forward towards playoff qualification with another comfortable win for the taking!