Their campaign might be back on track with back-to-back victories but Kolkata Knight Riders will have little margin for error when they take on Virat Kohli’s resurgent Royal Challengers Bangalore in an Indian Premier League game here on Monday.
The two sides have won four of their six games with KKR ahead of RCB on net run rate but inconsistency in batting has been an issue for both the teams.
KKR are placed third in the standings and the two-time champions will be going all out for a victory at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium after registering two back-to-back wins against Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab.
RCB, on the other hand, are coming into the game following a 37-run morale-boosting victory against CSK and will fancy their chances.
RCB results in IPL 2020
|Match||Day/Date/Time||Venue||Result||Total points for season|
|SRH vs RCB||21 Sep, Mon (1930)||Dubai||RCB won by 10 runs||2|
|KXIP vs RCB||24 Sep, Thu (1930)||Dubai||RCB lost by 97 runs||2|
|RCB vs MI||28 Sep, Mon (1930)||Dubai||RCB won Super Over after a tied match||4|
|RCB vs RR||3 Oct, Sat (1530)||Abu Dhabi||RCB won by 8 wickets||6|
|RCB vs DC||5 Oct, Mon (1930)||Dubai||RCB lost by 59 runs||6|
|CSK vs RCB||10 Oct, Sat (1930)||Dubai||RCB won by 37 runs||8|
KKR results in IPL 2020
|Match||Date||Venue||Result||Total points for season|
|KKR vs MI||23 Sep||Abu Dhabi||KKR lost by 49 runs||0|
|KKR vs SRH||26 Sep||Abu Dhabi||KKR won by 7 wickets||2|
|RR vs KKR||30 Sep||Dubai||KKR won by 37 runs||4|
|DC vs KKR||3 Oct||Sharjah||KKR lost by 18 runs||4|
|KKR vs CSK||7 Oct||Abu Dhabi||KKR won by 10 runs||6|
|KXIP vs KKR||10 Oct||Abu Dhabi||KKR won by 2 runs||8|
Russell injury concern for KKR
For KKR, the biggest cause of concern will be the availability of big-hitter Andre Russell, who hurt his knee when he dived into the advertisement boards after missing a catch on Saturday.
Skipper Dinesh Karthik did not reveal the extent of the injury after the match against KXIP.
“Whenever Russell gets injured, you know it is hard. He is a very special player, he is a very special person. We need to go and look at him,” he said.
KKR have battled batting inconsistencies this year. Shubman Gill has been fabulous at the top with two half-centuries so far.
Rahul Tripathi, who replaced Sunil Narine as the opener, scored 81 against CSK but failed against KXIP. Nitish Rana has looked good in patches while Eoin Morgan has also been erratic.
Skipper Karthik, who copped up a lot of criticism for his batting, was back among runs with a vital 29-ball 58 against KXIP.
KKR’s bowling unit, however, has been sensational in the last two games, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat and the bowlers will be high on confidence when they take on a star-studded RCB line up.
Narine’s action under scrutiny
But their bowling line-up will have a lot on their plate with their lethal weapon Sunil Narine blunted by a chucking complaint.
Narine, who have had multiple complaints of suspect action against him, is again in trouble after on-field umpires’ report after KKR’s thrilling two-run win against Kings XI Punjab in which the spinner played a massive role.
Not only KXIP, but the match against CSK also witnessed Narine’s entry after 10 overs, stifling Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men. It seemed that the spinner was getting his mojo back and could have been a handful for Virat Kohli’s in-form men.
However, the first warning (a second one would bar him from bowling) from the IPL authorities is certain to ring alarm bells in the KKR camp as he was supposed to be Dinesh Karthik’s ‘go-to’ man in pressure situations.
It has been learnt that Narine has a problem with a few deliveries, especially the one that breaks back into a right-hander where there is believed to be an elbow flex beyond the permissible limit.
With his batting also not exactly clicking, how KKR fits him in the playing XI will be interesting, knowing that another offence could end his tournament as a bowler.
Kohli back in form
On the other hand, the biggest positive for RCB is that captain Kohli has finally got his touch back after ordinary performances at the beginning of the season.
The 31-year-old was the lone batsman to put up a fight with a 39-ball 43 in the RCB’s 53-run loss to Delhi Capitals on Monday. He followed it up with a match-winning 90-run knock against CSK when other RCB batsmen, save opener Devdutt Padikkal, failed to put runs on the board.
Padikkal has been in good touch, but AB de Villiers, who played some exquisite knocks at the beginning of the tournament, has looked off-color in recent outings.
The big-hitting Aaron Finch has also struggled, failing to capitalise on his starts.
RCB bowling department, led by Yuzvendra Chahal, got a major boost with South African Chris Morris coming into the side. The all-rounder was brilliant in his first appearance, bowling tight lines with a hint of away movement from right-handers.
RCB vs KKR H2H
|Matches||RCB win||KKR win||Tied / NR||KXIP win||KKR win|
|RCB vs KKR||24||8||15||1||33.3%||62.5%|
|Virat Kohli||Yuzvendra Chahal||Moeen Ali||Parthiv Patel|
|AB de Villiers||Mohammed Siraj||Pawan Negi||Shahbaz Ahmed|
|Gurkeerat Mann||Umesh Yadav||Shivam Dube||Joshua Philippe|
|Devdutt Padikkal||Navdeep Saini||Washington Sundar|
|Aaron Finch||Adam Zampa||Christopher Morris|
|Dale Steyn||Isuru Udana|
|Nitish Rana||Kuldeep Yadav||Andre Russell||Dinesh Karthik|
|Rinku Singh||Prasidh Krishna||Sunil Narine||Nikhil Shankar Naik|
|Shubman Gill||Sandeep Warrier||Pat Cummins|
|Siddhesh Lad||Shivam Mavi||Varun Chakravarthy|
|Eoin Morgan||Kamlesh Nagarkoti||Chris Green|
|Rahul Tripathi||Lockie Ferguson|
|Tom Banton||M Siddharth|
Match starts at 1930 hrs IST and will be broadcast on Star Sports network and Disney+ Hotstar.
With PTI inputs