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Royal Challengers Bangalore face the Kolkata Knight Riders with eyes on two vital points at the business end of the tournament at the Eden Gardens today. RCB thrashed Gujarat Lions by 144 runs in their last match on Saturday. KKR too clubbed a struggling RPS in a rain curtailed match and are placed on the table with 14 points.
AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli have batted unbelievably so far and have beguiled every opposition sharing over 1200 runs between them in the 2016 IPL. The Kolkata Knight Riders on the other hand have seen their premier pacer Umesh Yadav go down to injury. Let's take a sneak peek into both the squads ahead of the alluring battle.
From the RCB dugout
Chris Gayle has had a horrendous IPL 9 so far. The big hitting left hander will hope to put his haters to rest and tried his best to get set against Gujarat so watch out if he plays. Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers were batting on another plane against Gujarat Lions and were in ridiculous form! RCB will hope for them to continue from where they left and help their side continue the winning momentum.
KL Rahul has been in scintillating form off late and will look to continue his golden run against KKR. Shane Watson at number 5 has been getting runs at a brisk pace for the Royal Challengers while Sachin Baby has been as solid as a wall. Stuart Binny has shown his calibre with some explosive hitting and will be longing to bat earlier.
The bowling looks well settled with Yuzvendra Chahal starting to weave his magic all over again! He will be crucial to RCB's cause on a sluggish Kolkata track. Sreenath Aravind has controlled the new ball very well at the start and bowls his four overs economically. Varun Aaron's pace has been destructive so far while Chris Jordan's effort in the last game has been the biggest positive for RCB's dressing room.
Kohli will be tempted to play an extra spinner on a slowish turner but with the way Sachin Baby rolled his arm over for a couple of wickets in the last game, he might go ahead with the same lineup.
From the KKR dugout
Robin Uthappa and skipper Gautam Gambhir have been one of the most established opening pairs in IPL so far. They have given their side a formidable start on which the middle order has consolidated in the past. Manish Pandey at number 3 has the ability to block and attack depending on the situation and is a value addition to the team. Shakib Al Hasan and Suryakumar Yadav have nailed the T20 format so far with the capability of turning a game on it's head. Yusuf Pathan and Andre Russell's form has been an icing on the cake for the Knight Riders and they pose a lot of threats to Kohli and his troops.
The spin department looks particularly strong with Piyush Chawla and Sunil Narine controlling things in the middle overs. Shakib Al Hasan's slow left arm spin is more than useful on a slowish wicket. Morne Morkel will retain his place and has bounced out opposition with his extra pace. Umesh Yadav's replacement Ankit Rajpoot bowled decently in his last match but if he can trouble the likes of Kohli and the other batsmen will be interesting to see.
Overall, the Royal Challengers Bangalore will head into the game with a positive frame of mind and will hope to put up a magical show to inch towards a playoffs berth.
Our Bold trump card
Considering the Eden Gardens wicket which offers more to the bowlers, Shane Watson's four overs will hold massive key today. Watson has the ability to mix his pace and his cutters have worked wonders so far. He usually tends to surprise batsmen with his bouncer by generating an extra yard and has been Kohli's go-to-bowler so far.
Watson the batsman will also play a crucial part in the slog overs. Eden Gardens has huge boundaries and his strength will come to test when he will look to clear those fences. Watson's all-round abilities and his smartness on a cricketing field make him our Bold trump card to watch out for!