Expect the big-hitters to rule the roost in Sharjah when Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) square off in Match 28 of the 2020 Indian Premier League Season (IPL) in a bid to consolidate their positions in the top half of the table.
Bangalore has endured a mixed start to its season in the UAE. After beating Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in its opening fixture, it suffered a heavy 97-run defeat at the hands of Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in game two. However, the side bounced back with two consecutive victories, against Mumbai Indians (MI) and Rajasthan Royals (RR), before going down to a strong Delhi Capitals (DC) side. Now, it goes into its seventh league game on the back of a fine 37-run win against three-time champion Chennai Super Kings (CSK).
The Virat Kohli-led side, which currently sits fourth in the points table, has at times struggled in the closing stages of an innings. Despite boasting a strong top order with the likes of AB de Villiers, Aaron Finch and skipper Kohli himself, the men in red have failed to accelerate towards the end on a few occasions.
On the other hand, Navdeep Saini has been their most effective bowler at the death, except an expensive outing against DC. With Chris Morris’ return and Yuzvendra Chahal’s remarkable form, the bowling line-up looks more balanced and complete.
Its opponent, the Kolkata-based outfit, will be eyeing a hat-trick of wins, having pulled off successive heists against CSK and KXIP in its previous matches. Dinesh Karthik and Co. seemed to be heading towards a certain loss at one point in both the encounters before their bowlers showed great discipline at the death to snatch victories from the jaws of defeat.
KKR, currently third in the points table, lost its opening game to MI before taking full points from its next two games against SRH and RR, respectively. The opening pair of Rahul Tripathi and Shubman Gill has showed promise. However, KKR will have selection woes going into the match with Andre Russell getting injured in the last game and Sunil Narine’s bowling action being reported. Chris Green is likely to replace Russell, while Karthik may bring in Kuldeep Yadav for Narine.
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England’s limited overs skipper Eoin Morgan and captain Karthik add value to the middle order. Pat Cummins leads the bowling departement and has able company in Varun Chakravarthy and Prasidh Krishna, who starred with a three-wicket haul against KXIP.
An in-form Kohli makes RCB look even more dominant. The Indian skipper scored an unbeaten 90 in the last match and has more than 200 runs under his belt from his last three outings. He, along with star opener Devdutt Padikkal, have the potential to turn the game around on their day. Chris Morris’ three for 19 is an encouraging sign as his experience can prove handy towards the end.
KKR’s Gill and Varun Chakravarthy have been impressive and it will be interesting to see how Morgan fares in Sharjah. Cummins has gotten off to a rough start with the ball and the Knights will bank on his experience on a small Sharjah ground.
Squads (Probable XI)
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Aaron Finch, Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers (WK), Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Isuru Udana, Chris Morris, Navdeep Saini, and Yuzvendra Chahal
Kolkata Knight Riders: Rahul Tripathi, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik (C and WK), Andre Russell/Chris Green, Sunil Narine/Kuldeep Yadav, Pat Cummins, Prasidh Krishna, Varun Chakravarthy, and Kamlesh Nagarkoti
Match 28: Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Kolkata Knight Riders
Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium
Date: October 12, Monday
Time: 7:30 p.m