Bengaluru, May 1: In the midst of a punishing schedule, defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) visit the erstwhile Garden City to take on a rebooted Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) here on Saturday.
The 4 p.m. start, though, will be under the mercy of rain Gods who have virtually camped here for the past fortnight, flooding the city with a daily dose of thundershowers accompanied by hailstones. A couple of days ago, showers forced the abandonment of RCB’s game against Rajasthan Royals and there are no signs of a let-up in the wet weather.
With the tourment at the halfway mark and poised to enter the business end, neither team can afford to drop points from here on. Knight Riders are on nine points from eight games while RCB have seven from as many outings.
Ahead of Friday’s double-header, KKR were placed third and RCB fourth, but both teams have an eye on the rear view mirror with sides in the lower half not far behind.
As such, there will be pressure on both RCB and KKR with the hosts still seeking their first win this season at home, something that looked likely when they blasted 200 against Rajasthan Royals before persistent rains forced abandonment.
On the other hand, KKR, despite the absence of spinner Sunil rine, who was again called for chucking and has since been banned from bowling off-spinners, still pulled off a fine win over Cheni Super Kings on Thursday. Gautam Gambhir’s men showed exemplary character to chase down 166.
KKR, playing their third game in six days across three cities, will be again looking up to their spinners Piyush Chawla and 44-year-old Brad Hogg, who did the star turn with a four-wicket haul that checked Super Kings. The visitors are also well-placed in the batting department with their top-order led by Robin Uthappa and Gambhir in middling form.
Similarly, Virat Kohli-led RCB did extremely well to post two wins after suffering three consecutive defeats to get back into reckoning and their most recent performances, despite a shaky middle-order, point to a side that is coming together nicely as a major force.
Incidentally, RCB started their campaign with a three-wicket win over KKR at the Eden Gardens in a high scoring game. KKR made 177/6 on the back of an 81-run opening stand between Uthappa (35) and Gambhir (58) but RCB made the target with an over to spare, thanks to opener Chris Gayle’s 56-ball 96.
Both teams have come a long way since that game.
RCB’s bowling has become incisive with the return of Mitchell Starc, though the poor form of wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik (70 runs in seven matches), who was bought for Rs.10.5 crore, is a matter of concern. In fact, barring Gayle (219), Kohli (221) and AB de Villiers (233), none of the other batsmen have even crossed the 100-run mark.
In contrast, KKR have batted deep with as many as six batsmen, topping 100 runs with Uthappa (223) and Gambhir (209) at the top of the heap. Their bowling too has the necessary variety to restrict the best of opponents, as Super Kings found out.
Thus, if the rains stay away, there is a rich promise of a blockbuster on a batsman-friendly pitch and the team that will hold its collective nerve will come out on top. IANS