Kolkata Knight Riders will be wary of the ‘banana peel’ risk when they take on the out of form Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first of the doubleheader contests on Sunday at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.
KKR looks suddenly off the tracks after their recent loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rising Pune Supergiant. The result of these couple of failures is clearly visible in the points table where both SRH and RPS have narrowed down the gaps.
With MI positioned at the top of the table with 16 points, the fight is for the second spot at the moment. RPS, with 14 points, stands equal with KKR, who also has 14 points in their kitty. The only difference between the two teams is the NRR. SRH, on the other hand, is just one point short of leaping ahead to the second position.
Also, it is sure that one out of this two teams will move ahead of KKR for a brief while, as SRH and RPS play against each other on Saturday. However, KKR will be pushed in the bottom half of the top four if they lose against RCB.
Therefore, in order to maintain their supremacy, KKR now has to ensure they win all their remaining three games starting with the game versus the unpredictable Virat Kohli led side.
Kolkata Knight Riders humiliated the RCB when the two teams met last time. Playing in front of the home crowd, KKR fast bowlers demolished the famed RCB batting order and steamrolled them for just 49 in the second innings.
Batting seemed pretty difficult right from the start of the match, as KKR struggled to gain rhythm after being put to bat first. A collective contribution saw them put up a functional 131 in 19.3 overs before getting all-out.
Virat Kohli & Co, however, failed to face-off the challenge from the KKR bowling attack and ended up losing by a massive margin of 82 runs. Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Woakes and Colin de Grandhomme picked three wickets each, whereas, Umesh Yadav took one wicket to stage the humiliation for RCB.
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Let’s hope someone would tell Gautam Gambhir to cut the ‘Sunil Narine’ experiment. Damaging the entire momentum for the sake few extra runs at some extra pace seem idiotic at a time when the team has two back to back defeats. What was meant to be a surprise element to catch the opposition unaware has now become a drawback for the team.
The tactic might seem slightly irrelevant, as some may argue in support of Narine. But, it surely has had a huge impact on the batting line-up. No doubt, Narine’s new found love for batting has lengthened the batting order. However, it would be sensible to push him back to the lower middle order again.
The underused Shakib Al Hasan should get a look in. His inclusion might come at the cost of Colin de Grandhomme but the success of left arm spinners like Krunal Pandya and Axar Patel against RCB batsmen speaks supports the left arm spinner comeback in the XI.
Kuldeep Yadav may lose his place as well after two unsuccessful games. Gambhir may think of giving Piyush Chawla some matches before the playoffs. Robin Uthappa should also recover from the hamstring niggle and be available.
This would mean Surya Kumar Yadav will have to sit out. However, it would be better to retain him and remove Sheldon Jackson instead to add more firepower.
Here is the predicted XI:
Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Surya Kumar Yadav, Shakib al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Chris Woakes, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Umesh Yadav, Piyush Chawla.