Two teams on an upward surge meet on Monday when Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore take on Dinesh Karthik’s Kolkata Knight Riders, with both men hitting half-centuries in their respective last outings.
Kohli has returned to form after a slow start to IPL 2020, with an unbeaten 90 against the Chennai Super Kings. That has helped the Royal Challengers stay inside the top four despite Aaron Finch, Devdutt Padikkal and AB de Villiers losing steam over their last few matches. Washington Sundar’s bowling in the powerplay has been another plus, and the addition of Chris Morris has added experience to their pace unit.
The Knight Riders have had many players chipping in with match-winning performances, starting with Shubman Gill and Rahul Tripathi with the bat and Sunil Narine, Varun Chakravarthy and Prasidh Krishna with the ball. But there are question marks over the West Indies duo of Narine and Andre Russell, and how the Knight Riders navigate through that situation could decide if they can complete a hat-trick of wins or if the Royal Challengers go past them on the points table.
In the news
The Knight Riders’ most experienced overseas players, Russell and Narine, have given the team management something to ponder about. Against the Kings XI Punjab on Saturday, Russell injured his knee while fielding – after which he did not bowl – while Narine was warned for a suspect bowling action. If he errs again, he will be banned from bowling this season altogether.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Devdutt Padikkal, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 AB de Villiers (wk), 5 Gurkeerat Singh Mann, 6 Shivam Dube, 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Chris Morris, 9 Isuru Udana, 10 Navdeep Saini, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Shubman Gill, 2 Rahul Tripathi, 3 Nitish Rana, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Dinesh Karthik (capt, wk), 6 Andre Russell/Tom Banton, 7 Sunil Narine, 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Kamlesh Nagarkoti/Shivam Mavi, 10 Prasidh Krishna, 11 Varun Chakravarthy
The Knight Riders could bowl spin with the new ball because Finch has struggled against that style of bowling this season. He has faced spin in five innings and has been dismissed four times, while averaging just 14.8. They could perhaps even play Kuldeep Yadav to target Finch first up: across all T20s, Finch averages just 6.3 against the left-arm wristspinner, having been dismissed four times in five innings by him.
The Royal Challengers could save Yuzvendra Chahal for Eoin Morgan, and ask the legspinner to bowl slower to him than usual. Morgan loves spinners who bowl quicker at him, and the numbers back that up. Morgan hasn’t been dismissed yet this season by spin bowling at over 90kph, but averages just 5.70 when spinners slow it down.
Stats and trivia
With 223 runs, Kohli has scored the most runs among non-openers in IPL 2020. He is one among three non-openers to average over 50.
Since 2018, Kohli’s best numbers in the IPL have come against the Knight Riders: most runs (283), highest average (94.3), highest strike-rate (154) and the most fifty-plus scores (three). His last three scores against the Knight Riders are 100, 84 and 68.
This season, AB de Villiers has averaged 53 when the Royal Challengers have batted first, but only 24.55 while chasing. His strike-rate fluctuates too: 189 in the first innings compared to 144 in the second.
The Knight Riders have won three games batting first this season. The last time they achieved this feat was back in 2014 where they won the title.
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