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Cricket-lovers in Ranchi will get their first taste of the Indian Premier League as the Kolkata Knight Riders head to their adopted hometown to take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore, in Match 60 of the Pepsi IPL 2013.
KKR, the defending champions, have had a disastrous season, having won five of the 13 matches they’ve played so far. However, they come into this contest on a high having defeated Pune Warriors India in their own backyard.
Royal Challengers Bangalore meanwhile got the better of Delhi Daredevils in their previous match. After posting 183 on the back of skipper Virat Kohli’s 99, RCB posted 183 and then held their nerves to eke out a narrow four-run victory. RCB are locked in a mid-table race with four other teams for three spots in the Pepsi IPL 2013 Play-Offs and a victory in this contest will guide them one step close to the Play-Offs.
Sunday, May 12, 2013, 4 p.m Where
Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium, Ranchi
Given the limited resources KKR have, it is important that skipper Gautam Gambhir leads from the front and bats through the bulk of the overs. Numbers best illustrate the effect Gambhir has on KKR: off the 12 times he has scored 50 or more for KKR, the team has gone on to win on nine occasions. Further, the southpaw averages 48 in matches that KKR have gone on to win and a dismal 19 in matches they’ve lost.
Given Yusuf Pathan’s indifferent form with the bat this season, KKR has needed to pad up the middle order and that has come in the form of the inclusion of Ryan ten Doeschate. In his first match of the season, the Dutchman scored 31 off 21 balls and bowled tidily. He, together with Eoin Morgan, will play crucial roles in the death overs.
RCB were dubbed a one-man team at the start of the season – the reference to the one man being Chris Gayle. However, several others have made their presence count when presented with the opportunity. Cheteshwar Pujara and Saurabh Tiwary have scored half-centuries at the top of the innings whenever they have had the opportunity, while Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers have played more than one match-winning knock this season.
Prior to their meeting at Bengaluru this season, both teams had won five matches apiece. However, with their eight-wicket victory at home earlier this season, Royal Challengers Bangalore have stretched their record against KKR to 6-5.
In his two appearances for KKR against RCB, Chris Gayle scored 74 runs with a highest of 40. In five appearances for RCB against KKR, the Jamaican has aggregated 313 runs at a strike-rate of 171.03. Gayle’s scores for RCB against KKR are 102, 38, 2, 86 & 85.
Kolkata Knight Riders have won only one of their seven away matches this season.
Kolkata Knight Riders stay put at Ranchi after this match and prepare to host Pune Warriors India on May 15. Royal Challengers Bangalore meanwhile head back home to take on Kings XI Punjab on May 14.
Table-toppers in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013 and twice title holders of the Premier T20 competition, the Chennai Super Kings will be taking on the Rajasthan Royals at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Sunday evening.
The hosts too have been in sublime form and are so far unbeaten at what has come to be known as their fortress. The Rahul Dravid-led team is sitting pretty in the third position on the points table and has held their nerves in tight situations, besting the likes of Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore as they head into their last match at home.
The Royals versus the Super Kings contest promises to be a thriller as the two teams battle to strengthen their positions for a place in the Play-Offs. Speaking about the significance of the game for the visitors towards the business end of the tournament, CSK’s fielding coach Steve Rixon said, “It is an important match from the way we see it. It probably ensures us of a top two berth if we win it, plus we have one home game to get going, which is also pretty convenient. So it is an important game. It gives momentum going into the finals. We won seven in a row, then had a massive defeat against Mumbai Indians and then bounced back very well against the Sunrisers Hyderabad and now we want to get a real start again. So it is an important match for us.”
Although they have looked unbeatable in most of their games, the Super Kings will be looking to strengthen their team going forward. Discussing the areas that they would be working on, he said, “What we have probably been hunting for is consistency. Something that escapes us is in one of the roles. Whether it is fielding or batting or bowling, we haven’t really got the three going together. Which I guess is quite exciting considering that it is still to happen. Come finals time, if we can get that right we can be a force to reckon with. But, consistency is the key at the moment and we are looking to get on a bit of a roll there.”
Asked if bowling in the death has been an area of concern seeing that a lot of runs are being conceded in the last overs by quite a few sides or whether it is just the way the strategy is being worked out this season, Rixon said, “It is a little bit of both. I don’t think anyone has mastered the death overs yet. We certainly haven’t. It’s something we have worked very hard on, our preparations towards getting better, it has obviously improved. But when it comes to the death overs we have only now established who we are going to bowl in the death overs on a regular basis. We have been trying different avenues. It has been a very big problem. RCB scored 84 runs against DD from the last five overs, so it is just unbelievable. That’s a new record for me. But if you give 50-55 off the last five it has become par, but not 80-odd runs. That’s a good example of how good things can change.”
Speaking about the opposition and one of their youngsters, Sanju Vishwanadh scoring runs and taking on attacks, he said “He is a very good player. I have been watching him with intent. There are quite a few guys in this tournament who have made a name for themselves. The young Binny (Stuart), has done very well. He has lot of natural talent. To see these young guys come through is a credit to the competition and credit to the youngsters. It is very healthy at the moment.”
The tournament has also seen stalwarts of the game scoring prolifically and setting-up wins for their team. Both the sides have one such player, while CSK has Michael Hussey among their ranks who has been in sublime form, the Royals’ skipper Rahul Dravid has been milking attacks too. Reflecting on the success being enjoyed by the experienced campaigners and what could be propelling them, he said, “Probably the enjoyment factor. They seem to be enjoying the game. They are not carrying the stress of their future careers. They have both had magnificent careers. To be a bit more relaxed about their cricket is allowing them to express themselves a bit better. I don’t think I have seen Mike Hussey hit the ball better and Rahul Dravid has been good too. So we have got two great examples of people playing relaxed form of cricket.”