After a promising start, the Royal Challengers Bangalore are making hard work of IPL 3 and they next face the Knight Riders in Bangalore on Saturday with both sides still in the hunt for a semi final place. One time certainties for a semi-final place, the Royal Challengers have lost four of their last five and are in serious danger of missing out. They will hope to get things back on track against an inconsistent but dangerous Kolkata.
Venue and Conditions:
The M. Chinnaswamy Stadium has been one of the better surfaces for bowlers in this tournament and even though it looks a little drier now, there is still bounce and seam movement on offer for the quicker bowlers, as well as hint of swing.
Kolkata have beaten Bangalore on each of the three occasions that they have faced one another on Indian soil.
Both these sides have won Five of their ten games in the tournament so far but the Royal Challengers will be disappointed to have let a commanding position in the points table slip in recent days. RCB have lost four of their last five to slip back into the chasing pack.
RCB has a tough run in with games against the Chargers, the Royals and Mumbai Indians to follow this match. It’s strange that the recent disappointing results sequence has coincided with the arrivals of Pietersen, Cameron White and Ross Taylor.
Kevin Pietersen has missed two games and may get a recall, at the expense of Cameron White or Ross Taylor. Bangalore have limited room for manoeuvre besides this and there appears no chance of Mark Boucher or Roelof van der Merwe getting a game any time soon.
If Steyn is raw pace and bounce, Praveen Kumar looks for variations to do the job. Vinay Kumar may be a tad expensive, but has the happy knack of picking up wickets, while there is no one better than skipper Anil Kumble to tie the opposition down. Kallis brings his truckload of experience to the table, and assess the situation and adjust better than most
The Knight Riders are hanging in there and their recent win over the Daredevils has revived their chances of reaching the semi finals. They have posted scores in excess of 180 in each of their last three games. Two of those matches have been won but the defeat surprisingly came against IPL 3 whipping boys the Kings XI who chased down 200 with some ease.
Chris Gayle and the skipper Ganguly have looked good at the top of the order and they do now have Brendon McCullum available although he only managed six runs in his first appearance of IPL3 earlier this week.
With the ball, Ajantha Mendis turned the game against Delhi and they do have some useful options to take the pace off which could be vital against RCB’s powerful batting line up.
The Knight Riders won the earlier meeting between the sides in Kolkata. It was a low scoring affair with KKR eventually chasing down 136 for victory with 4 balls to spare.
In the previous season, Bangalore were victorious on both counts, successfully chasing down 140 and 174, while in the first it was Kolkata who clinched both encounters
Jacques Kallis continues to be top batsman for RCB but Virat Kohali is also doing well for the team. Robin Uthappa can be brilliant, but usually is not.
For Kolkata, Gayle is always worth a look, but his equally destructive opening partner McCullum cannot be taken lightly.
Chris Gayle vs RCB bowlers hold the key to match. RCB have not been on the money with the ball in recent games and Gayle could punish them if they stray. If RCB can get Gayle early enough, they should be OK but they do come up against a very determined side.
Kolkata dropped Shane Bond for their last match against Delhi, but the pitch in Bangalore is likely to be much more to his liking and he should return, probably at the expense of Ajantha Mendis. Kolkata blow hot and cold, but they have taken on some of their captain’s fighting spirit and look a balanced unit. In Brendon McCullum, Chris Gayle and Shane Bond, they have proven match winners.
5 wins and 5 losses each; inspirational veterans Indian captain at the helm, a tear away quick each to start proceedings. Almost nothing separates the two sides, though in the race for semifinal spot, RCB are well served by their very good NRR.