After failing to click as a unit during the initial stages of the tournament, the Royal Challengers Bangalore notched up their second win in the tenth edition of the Indian Premier League in the previous outing. The best part of the victory being Chris Gayle’s stormy return to form at the top of the order with a swashbuckling knock alongside captain Virat Kohli who maintained his consistent run of form. Looking to build further on this momentum on Sunday, the Bengaluru men now face Gautam Gambhir’s Kolkata Knight Riders, who were run over by Gujarat Lions on Friday evening.
Batting in AB’s absence
AB de Villiers missed out RCB’s previous match as a result of injury and was replaced by Travis Head who also proved his worth with a blazing unbeaten 16-ball 30. As mentioned earlier, it provided great support to the opening Gayle-Kohli partnership. The duo piled up 122 by the 13th over at a run rate of just under 10 an over. Even Kedar Jadhav, in at number 4, helped build on this foundation with a 16-ball 38. It was truly a complete batting performance, especially in the absence of the South African superman.
Spinners on song
Against the Gujarat Lions in Rajkot the other night, the spinners opened the bowling. Pawan Negi bowled the first ball and tightened the screws right from the word go. Then came RCB’s most successful spinner over the past few seasons Yuzvendra Chahal and made inroads on the very second ball of his spell. Eventually after a couple more spells here and there, the spinners ended up with a combined figures of 52 for 4 in their quota of eight overs with critical scalps like Suresh Raina, Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch in their kitty.
Tricks up Kolkata sleeve
In a move that took the opposition by surprise, KKR promoted their pinch-hitting spinner Sunil Narine up the order in the last match. The gamble paid off as he swung through the line to length deliveries from Praveen Kumar and James Faulkner, smashing seven boundaries in 12 deliveries. By making 42 off 17 deliveries - his highest T20 score and most runs made by a batsman with boundaries in percentage terms at the IPL - he had left a platform for the in-form Uthappa and Manish Pandey to build on.
Eden trouble for KKR bowlers
After a solid show by their batters, KKR faltered when it came to defending their target. At home, even their key bowlers conceded at north of ten an over. Shakib Al Hasan was taken for 31 in his three overs while Naraine also leaked 42 in his four. Even Nathan Coulter-Nile was smashed across the park by Raina and Chris Woakes also was uneconomical. The only saving grace was Kuldeep Yadav who scalped two wickets at an economy of around eight and KKR will need more of that if they are to succeed at their fortress against RCB on Sunday.