Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai 21 May 2014 - 07:23pm IST
Preview: Match 49 – KKR v RCB
Knight Riders host Royal Challengers in a match with Playoffs implications
Match 49 of Pepsi IPL 2014 will feature the Kolkata Knight Riders clashing with the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
This is a huge contest, given how the teams have stacked up in the standings at this point. KKR have an edge over their opponents, for who it is a do-or-die affair. KKR have 14 points from 12 matches and need one more to win to seal the third Playoffs slot. Gautam Gambhir’s team is on a roll, having won five matches on the bounce.
RCB’s defeat to the Sunrisers Hyderabad has made things difficult for the team from Garden City. The way the table has taken shape, there is a possibility of one of five teams progressing to the Playoffs on 14 points, and for RCB, who have 10 points from 12 matches, to stay in the race, they have to win both their remaining fixtures and hope other results will help their cause too.
Thursday, May 22, 2014, 4 pm IST
Eden Gardens, Kolkata
The focus and expectations will be a lot more on the in-form-players in these crucial times than at any other stage in the competition. KKR have been well served by Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa at the top. Just how the world has changed for Gambhir has been incredible; the southpaw scored a solitary run in his first four innings of the season, but sailed through difficult times and is now the team’s second-highest run-getter. His opening partner – Uthappa – has been batting like a dream. He has been impressive with his technique – not falling over like he used to earlier, and playing the right lines – and is striking the ball crisply. After a slow start to the season, he too has steadily climbed up the batting charts and finds himself in a position to challenge Kings XI Punjab’s Glenn Maxwell for the Orange Cap. On the bowling front, the four overs bowled by Sunil Narine will be crucial as always; the Trinidadian has seldom had bad days and few batsmen have found ways to score off him.
RCB will look towards the big guns in the batting line-up to deliver. One cannot put together a more feared batting line-up than RCB have done this season. Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Yuvraj Singh and Albie Morkel should walk into any side – most definitely in T20 cricket. Unfortunately for the team, poor form has caught up with a few of their key batsmen – Gayle and Kohli notably – at the wrong time. Gayle in particular has been a pale shadow of the destructive batsman he is known to be. The Jamaican perhaps needs to alter his approach to batting; he has been very cautious at the start, and perhaps a few attacking strokes and a few boundaries might just be the tonic he needs to emerge out of the defensive mindset.
Notes from previous match
Kolkata Knight Riders v Chennai Super Kings: The KKR coach and captain deserve a pat on the back for their selection. The team persisted with their spinners on a pitch that the opposition captain, MS Dhoni, thought would aid the seamers. The introduction of Pat Cummins too yielded the desired results. The Australian bowled fast, hit the right areas and made life difficult for the CSK batsmen – especially early on. The way the bowlers kept a tight leash on the CSK batsmen was impressive; half the overs in the CSK innings cost the hosts six runs or less. The run-chase was a formality once openers Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir got off to rollicking start; the pair added 52 in the first six overs, which ensured the required rate was kept under check.
Royal Challengers Bangalore v Sunrisers Hyderabad: Lack of momentum at the top has hurt RCB badly. That was a problem area leading into this match – after scores of 31/1, 34/1 and 17/1 in three previous matches – and that continues to remain a problem. RCB only scored 25 runs in the first six overs in the match against SRH. There were 20 dot-balls in the first six overs. RCB need to make better use of the period when the field restrictions are in force. In contrast, SRH ran away with the match at the top of their innings; their openers added 51 in the first six overs. There were just as many dot deliveries in both innings – 43. But SRH made better use of the remaining deliveries and prevailed.
The Kolkata Knight Riders have a 7-6 win-loss record against the Royal Challengers Bangalore from 13 previous meetings.
The head to head has been fairly lop-sided when the two teams have met in Kolkata; the hosts have won three of their four matches against RCB.
Robin Uthappa’s 489 runs in Pepsi IPL 2014 is his highest season aggregate so far. His previous best season performance was the 434 runs he scored for Pune Warriors India in Pepsi IPL 2013.
Chris Gayle has scores of 102, 38, 2, 86, 85 and 33 in six innings he’s played against the Kolkata Knight Riders. He has scored 346 runs at a strike-rate of 157.99.
Both teams will play their final league fixtures on May 24. While KKR will take on the Sunrisers Hyderabad in Kolkata, Royal Challengers Bangalore head back home to host the Chennai Super Kings.