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It was a team effort that helped theKolkata Knight Riders secure a 46-run victory in their previous fixture against thePune Warriors India. They got the runs, backed it up with a disciplined bowling display and the win kept their hopes alive for a play-off spot in the competition. Ask KKR captain Gautam Gambhir about his team’s chances in the tournament and he will sound as optimistic as ever, saying, “At the moment, the competition is pretty open. We still have a fair chance of reaching the play-offs. For me what matters is the remaining three games and we face RCB on Sunday, which is a must win game for us. Hopefully we can try and deliver.”
RCB are coming off a win against the Delhi Daredevils and will be high on confidence especially with their captain Virat Kohli going great guns with a 99 the on Friday night.Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers form the batting nucleus for RCB and when asked if KKR had a strategy to counter them, Gambhir said, “We do not strategise against individuals. We do not discuss individuals; we will only look to do what we do best and stick to our strength.”
Not surprisingly, KKR’s strength has been their bowling so far in the tournament. Sunil Narine, still remains a mystery for most sides while the likes of Jacuqes Kallis, Rajat Bhatia and L Balaji have been key bowlers in the KKR attack that has been consistent in the tournament so far. The captain agreed the fast bowlers and spinners had done their bit. “KKR is not dependent only on its spin bowlers. If you see in the tournament, Jacques Kallis and L Balaji too have done well for us, which are great signs for us. Spinners have been successful for us, they have been different, and they have not been conventional spinners. Our bowling unit on the whole has been good.”
But the real concern has been the batting for KKR. The batting line-up that boasts of big names in the side, has quite not lived up to the expectations and has failed to put up big scores on the board. Gambhir believed KKR were not clicking well as a cohesive unit.
“We have been consistent in patches through the tournament. There have been times when the batting has clicked and the bowling has not complemented it and vice-versa. We need to click as a collective unit, something that we did in the previous game. Hopefully we are professional in our batting, bowling and fielding when we play RCB.”
“We will try and win the win game on Sunday. Be it any situation, we as a team; enter the ground thinking about a victory. We do not play to participate. We will look to play some good cricket and get a win,” added Gambhir.
KKR play RCB at the JSCA international stadium in Ranchi, wherein the stadium will stage its first ever IPL game. A home venue for the Knights and Gambhir was hopeful for some good support for the home side. “I feel Ranchi is one of the best grounds in India, in terms of the facilities and other aspects of the ground. Hope we get the same amount of support like we get back home at the Eden Gardens. The crowd in Kolkata has been fantastic with their support and hopefully we get the same kind of support in Ranchi as well.”
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.