Kolkata Knight Riders will be desperate to bring their flagging campaign back on track while Royal Challengers Bangalore will look to shrug off the overdependence on its top three batters when the two teams clash in the IPL on Wednesday.
The two-time champions have looked clueless in their last four outings, losing at home while also on the road. The Nitish Rana-led side is currently at seventh spot with just two wins from seven games. (IPL 2023 Points Table, Orange Cap And Purple Cap Leaders: Delhi Capitals Remain Last In Spite Of Second Win)
The losses can largely be pegged down to the shoddy performance by KKR batters. They are missing their regular skipper Shreyas Iyer and star all-rounder Shakib-Al-Hasan.
In the 49-run loss against Chennai Super Kings on Sunday, KKR batters were expected to rise to the occasion, chasing a 230 plus score, instead the top-order, comprising the likes of Venkatesh Iyer, Rana and N Jagadeesan crumbled under pressure.
KKR have also struggled to zero in on their opening pair. The former champions have shuffled around with Sunil Narine, Jagadeesan, Litton Das, Jason Roy and Rahmanullah Gurbaz at the top.
Their decision to send Narine to open the innings along side Jagadeesan against CSK failed as the West Indian departed for a duck. Had it not been for Roy and Rinku Singh’s fifties the margin of defeat would have been worse. The duo’s performance is the silver lining in an otherwise dismal show against CSK.
The big-hitting Andre Russell has also failed miserably in his role as the finisher. He hasn’t been able to hit the big shots and the fact that KKR send him at number seven or eight has not been helpful.
The all-rounder’s fitness is also a concern. He hasn’t bowled his quota of four overs even once this season as he often gets injured while bowling. But KKR will walk into the game with a slight psychologically edge, having defeated RCB by 81 runs earlier this season.
Meanwhile, RCB will be high on confidence after eking out a seven-run win over the then table toppers Rajasthan Royals and would be eager to extend their winning streak.
Faf du Plessis and his troops have won four of their seven games, including the last two, and find themselves just outside of the top four in the fifth spot. RCB’s wins have come on the back of sensational performers by a few players.
Du Plessis has been in sublime form and has raised several century-stands with Virat Kohli and Glenn Maxwell, who are also in good nick. Such is the dependence on the three that only they are doing the bulk of the scoring while the other batters have failed to fire. More is expected from the middle-order comprising Dinesh Karthik, Mahipal Lomlor, Shahbaz Ahmed and Suyash Prabhudessai.
Among bowlers, Mohammed Siraj has been in sensational form. The Purple Cap holder has conceded at 7.17 runs per over and has bowled the most dot balls — 89 this season.
Siraj is being ably supported by Wayne Parnell and Harshal Patel. The addition of Sri Lankan spinner Wanindu Hasaranga has also done wonders for the previously struggling RCB bowling unit.
RCB were undone by KKR spinners earlier this season and they will have to be a bit cautious while playing the likes of Varun Chakravarthy, Suyash Sharma and Narine.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Faf du Plessis (c), Akash Deep, Finn Allen, Anuj Rawat, Avinash Singh, Manoj Bhandage, Michael Bracewell, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dinesh Karthik, Siddarth Kaul, Virat Kohli, Mahipal Lomror, Glenn Maxwell, Mohammed Siraj, Wayne Parnell, Harshal Patel, Suyash Prabhudessai, Rajan Kumar, Shahbaz Ahmed, Karn Sharma, Himanshu Sharma, Sonu Yadav, Vijaykumar Vyshak, David Willey.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Nitish Rana (capt), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Venkatesh Iyer, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shardul Thakur, Lockie Ferguson, Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, Harshit Rana, Varun Chakravarthy, Anukul Roy, Rinku Singh, N Jagadeesan, Vaibhav Arora, Suyash Sharma, David Wiese, Kulwant Khejroliya, Litton Das, Mandeep Singh, Jason Roy.