Royal Challengers Bangalore

RCB are among the top-four in the points table © IANS

Ranchi: May 11, 2013

Inching closer to a playoff berth, Royal Challengers Bangalore will face an inconsistent Kolkata Knight Riders, who would be eyeing revenge, when the two sides clash in the city’s first IPL game at the Jharkhand Cricket Association’s International stadium.

It is exactly a month since the two teams clashed in Bangalore where Chris Gayle blew away KKR with a 50-ball 85 that was laced with nine sixes.

Riding on Gayle’s brilliance and some other notable performers, RCB are among the top-four in the points table while KKR are languishing in the bottom half.

Both teams will go into the match high on confidence winning their last games. While KKR comprehensively beat a hapless Pune Warriors, RCB pulled off a thriller against the Delhi Daredevils only last night.

For RCB, Gayle’s rather quiet outings in the past few matches would be a concern. But that has more or less been compensated by the likes of skipper Virat Kohli, who was quite impressive during his 58-ball 99 in the previous match.

Also finding his feet is the fit-again Cheteshwar Pujara, who would be expected to play the sheet-anchor role given that he is not exactly a big-hitter.

In fact, batting is hardly a concern for RCB with pinch-hitters like Moises Henriques and A B de Villiers making up the lower half of their line-up.

KKR, in contrast, have been throughly exposed as a brittle batting unit. Though skipper Gautam Gambhir found some of his lost touch with a half-century against Pune but that would hardly make up for the failure of others against a team like RCB.

Veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis has been struggling and similar is the case with expensive-buy Yusuf Pathan, who has not been able to justify the captain’s continuing faith in him.

On the bowling front, RCB came in for some thrashing last night even though medium-pacer Jaydev Unadkat stood out with a fiver in four economical overs conceding just 25 runs.

But the likes of Vinay Kumar and Henriques leaked runs at 10 per over and that would certainly be a cause of concern for the team.

KKR’s bowling, on the other hand, delivered against Pune but that can hardly be a measure of how good they are given that the Warriors are a team in doldrums.

Given their current form, RCB would start outright favourites and it would be interesting to see if KKR manage to get the better off their mighty opponent.