Kolkata Knight Riders will have their work cut out as their tiny hope of qualifying for the play-offs may be in danger against a promising Royal Challengers Bangalore at Ranchi on Sunday.
Ranchi: The equation couldn't be more crystal clear. Royal Challengers Bangalore already have a foot inside the IPL 6 play-offs door and a win against Kolkata Knight Riders will guarantee it. For the defending champions, there is simply no room for any further goof-up as Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings are the three out of four teams who are on the verge of qualification.
KKR continue to cling on to that tiny shred of hope, which to be very honest seems non-existent at the moment. After a 65-run mauling at the hands of Mumbai, KKR have given themselves an outside chance with a win over a torrid Pune Warriors. KKR have disappointed both with the bat and ball this year, with the former being their main headache.
Skipper Gautam Gambhir finally managed to get some runs under his belt with a half-century. A lot was expected of Yusuf Pathan, especially after his heroics against Rajasthan at home. Kolkata fans would be puzzled with Ryan ten Doeschate's exclusion so far in the tournament before the match against Pune, where his late blitz helped the team put up a competitive total. Besides them, Kolkata's batting has been inconsistent.
KKR's bowling unit would be high on spirits after they bowled out Pune for 106. L Balaji would have his tail up after a three-wicket haul against Pune. Spinner Sunil Narine and Iqbal Abdullah would again have to bear the responsibility of restricting the run-rate. However, it will be a different ball game against the in-form Bangalore as their batsmen have put in top-notch performances.
RCB have had more close finishes than any other this tournament. Their victory against Delhi Daredevils was just another example of it. Skipper Virat Kohli led from the front with an awe-inspiring 99 off 58 balls. The middle-order is not too long but the likes of AB de Villiers and Moises Henriques have provided stability whenever required.
A formidable bowling unit possessed by RCB has won them matches in the death overs. Vinay Kumar is the second-leading wicket taker in the tournament with 19 scalps and Jaydev Unadkat is coming off a superb five-wicket haul. Veteran spinner Murali Kartik has been successful in containing the batsmen in the middle order and Henriques has chipped in with crucial breakthroughs more often than not.
The JSCA International Cricket Stadium in Ranchi is all set to host the first game of this year's IPL and provided the state both sides are in, it is expected to be a cracker of a contest.
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 2 Manvinder Bisla (wk), 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 Yusuf Pathan, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Ryan ten Doeschate, 7 Manoj Tiwary, 8 Rajat Bhatia, 9 Iqbal Abdulla, 10 Sunil Narine, 11 L Balaji
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Cheteshwar Pujara, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 AB de Villiers (wk), 5 Moises Henriques, 6 Saurabh Tiwary, 7 J Syed Mohammed, 8 Murali Kartik, 9 Ravi Rampaul, 10 Vinay Kumar, 11 Jaydev Unadkat