Resurgent RCB to take on KKR at Eden
Kolkata: A cracker of a contest is on the cards when a resurgent Royal Challengers Bangalore take on Kolkata Knight Riders in their return leg Indian Premier League fixture at Eden Gardens here tomorrow.
Both the teams` last fixtures at their respective home grounds were washed out and they would pray that the weather God does not play spoilsport again tomorrow, even as the local Met department has forecast rain and thundershowers in next 48 hours.
The Bangalore outfit might have lost to KKR in the first leg but their campaign was back on track after three wins on the trot and both teams stay equal on league table with nine points from eight matches each at half-way stage of IPL 5.
One man KKR would need to watch out for would be Chris Gayle who has been in ominous form at the top of RCB batting and he would look to blow away the consistent Kolkata attack, something he had done in his last outing at the Eden, smashing a 55-ball 102 not out with seven sixes sent out of the park.
After a quiet start, Gayle has hit form with a 48-ball 81 studded with eight sixes in RCB`s win over Pune Warriors. He followed it up with another sizzling knock of 56-ball 87 in his side`s win over Kings XI Punjab.
Against his former franchise that chose not to retain him after the third season, the explosive Caribbean opener, who has recovered from an upset stomach, would look to prove a point. With A B de Villiers and Tillakaratne Dilshan in equally devastating form, the RCB batting would look to post or chase down a big total.
Skipper Daniel Vettori has recovered from a niggle that had forced him to sit out in their rain-marred last match against Chennai Super Kings.
One area of concern for RCB though was that their foreign recruits have been instrumental in the side`s wins and their domestic players like Virat Kohli, Saurabh Tiwary, Mayank Agarwal and Mohammad Kaif were yet to hit form.
In the bowling department, fresh from his 4/19 against Rajasthan, left-arm spinner K P Apanna would look to relish the slow condition here at the Eden as skipper Daniel Vettori would spearhead the spin attack that also boasts of Muttiah Muralitharan.
Young fast bowler Harshal Patel has impressed all and sundry in the limited outings he has had and is expected to blossom in the company of experienced Zaheer Khan and R Vinay Kumar as the RCB seemed to be one of the most balanced outfits in this season.
KKR, on the other hand, are yet to take full advantage of their tailormade home conditions, having won only once from three matches played here with one, the last one against Deccan Chargers, being abandoned due to heavy rains.
If the bowlers like Laxmipathy Balaji, Shakib Al Hasan and Sunil Narine have been winning matches for KKR, their batting is yet to click barring one captain`s knock by Gautam Gambhir who scored a 66 not out in their win over Kings XI Punjab at Mohali.
That only two batsmen – the other being Manoj Tiwary – have scored half-centuries may sound alarming especially with their roster boasting some big names, including Jacque Kallis, Brendon McCullum and Yusuf Pathan.
Yusuf, who was instrumental in Rajasthan Royals` triumph in the inaugural edition, has aggregated 29 runs from seven matches so far this season, averaging a woeful 5.80.
With batting lacking in consistency, KKR management may have a look at their English recruit Eoin Morgan who has not played a single match so far this edition. Known to be a finisher, Morgan should come in handy for the topsy-turvy KKKR batting.
Balaji has recovered from a hamstring injury and so is experienced local all-rounder Laxmi Ratan Shukla who should be back in contention after a recovering from injury.