RCB vs KKR: What can we expect?

Game 17 of IPL 2019 pits together Royal Challengers Bangalore with Kolkata Knight Riders at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Friday.

Virat Kohli‘s Bangalore have lost all four games this season while Kolkata have two wins from three games, their only loss coming in the Super Over.

Ahead of tonight’s IPL game, here are the talking points from RCB vs KKR:

Can Bangalore win a game?

It’s a valid question. They have lost all four in a row. Their captain Kohli is struggling to score. AB de Villiers hasn’t matched expectations. Team selections have been questionable. The management has chopped and changed. The overseas players haven’t pulled their weight. (VIDEO: Winless RCB run into Russell-inspired KKR)

All this has added to RCB’s worst start to any IPL season. Teams have fared worse – Mumbai Indians lost their first five games in 2014 and still reached the playoffs – and there remains a mathematical probability of Kohli’s team entering the knockouts, but something drastic is required.

What batting lineup will Bangalore choose?

Shimron Hetmyer, the hugely talented young West Indian, has batted at No 5 and opened so far with returns of 15 runs in four games. Kohli opened in the first game and the fourth, with the other two innings coming at No 3. His strike-rate is 98.70.

De Villier has three innings at No 4 and one at No 3. Moeen Ali began at No 3 and since then has opened and batted at five and six.

In his first IPL, Shimron Hetmyer averages 3.75 after four games.
In his first IPL, Shimron Hetmyer averages 3.75 after four games. © BCCI

The young Mumbai allrounder Shivam Dube played three matches and batted at No 6 and 7. Colin de Grandhomme got two chances at No 6 and one at No 7. After he top-scored with 37 in the massive loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad, de Grandhomme was dropped.

For the last game, young wicketkeeper-batsman Akshdeep Nath replaced Dube while Marcus Stoinis took de Grandhomme’s place.

Where will the wickets come from?

Bangalore have never boasted a world-class bowling unit. Their batsmen have most often outweighed the bowlers, with the trio of Kohli, de Villiers and Chris Gayle doing the bulk of the scoring over the years. (READ: Royal Challengers Bangalore not down and out yet: Piyush Chawla)

Look at their loss to Hyderabad. David Warner and Jonny Bairstow put on a record opening stand of 185. Moeen opened the bowling for Bangalore and went for 29 in three overs. Umesh Yadav conceded 47 in four wicketless overs. Mohammad Siraj went for 38 in his four. The debutant teenager Prayas Ray Burman had a baptism by fire, going for 56 in four overs. And de Grandhomme’s solitary over cost 16 runs.

Yuzvendra Chahal has eight wickets in four matches, which underlines his utility. Navdeep Saini went wicketless in three games while conceding runs at 8.25 per over. Bangalore’s bench strength also lacks depth. Against the likes of Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Nitish Rana, Robin Uthappa, Andre Russell and Dinesh Karthik, RCB cannot afford another poor day in the field.

Andre Russell has left a mark in each of KKR’s games so far. © BCCI

What will Russell do this time?

With knocks of 49* off 19 and 48 off 17, followed by a 28-ball 62, Russell was on fire in week one of the IPL. Kolkata have needed his ballistic six-hitting in all three games, and thus Russell looms massive against a threadbare Bangalore attack on a small ground.

In three innings, the West Indies allrounder has scored 159 runs at 79.50 with a strike-rate of 248.83.

Will KKR’s domination of RCB continue?

The last four matches been these two teams have seen Kolkata win each time.

In 2018, Kolkata marked their season opener with a four-wicket win over Bangalore and when they met later the result was a six-wicket success for Dinesh Karthik’s team. In the 2017 IPL season, KKR bowled out Bangalore for 49 in a massive victory and then won by six wickets in the latter stages of the league phase.

So not only do Bangalore need to end a four-run losing streak in this season, but also one against Kolkata.