Bragging rights up for grabs as KKR, RCB resume campaign of contrasting fortunes

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19 Sep 2021 | 01:41 PM
authorBastab K Parida

Bragging rights up for grabs as KKR, RCB resume campaign of contrasting fortunes

With five wins from seven matches, RCB are placed third on the points table while Kolkata only have a couple of wins

Cricket fans often have the tendency to be carried away by a specific story from the past to link it to a thread that simply doesn’t stand the fact. Kolkata Knight Riders fans would forever have a 49-sized sword to arm themselves each time their side take on Royal Challengers Bangalore, but the real story can’t be farther from the truth. 

In 27 IPL Head-to-Head encounters, KKR have won 14 matches, with RCB bagging 13, including each of the last four matches. It doesn’t really paint any dominating picture for either side, but possibly that has made the battle a staggering proposition. Serial underperformers, but never short on entertainment - RCB and KKR are set to resume their IPL 2021 campaign at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on September 20 (Monday).

With five wins from seven matches, RCB are placed third on the points table while Kolkata had an extremely rocky start to their campaign by registering only a couple of wins. As Rajasthan Royals’ Tabraiz Shamsi said, the first half doesn’t really tell the full story, hence KKR will walk out to the middle knowing there is still a campaign to salvage and pride to cling on to. However, they have massive odds to overcome in order to resurrect their campaign, having endured a tough start in the powerplay and failing to guard their middle-overs with any sort of authority.

KKR’s Powerplay dilemma

With Sunil Narine not opening for them anymore, KKR are a depleted batting unit up top. Shubbman Gill, for all his talent, hasn’t been able to translate that promise to the role of a proper T20 opener and Nitish Rana has been just a footnote to Chris Lynn’s swagger in his new-found role as an opener. As a result, KKR have had the lowest powerplay average among all teams this season and their strike rate of 124 is only better than Sunrisers Hyderabad. 

The Eoin Morgan-led side have lost a wicket once every 21 balls, which is the second-worst for a team this season. From these disruptive numbers, you could figure out the real reason behind their staggering downfall.

Another dream run for Siraj?

2021 has been a dream year for Mohammed Siraj. After spearheading India’s incredible Test win at the fag end of 2020, Siraj has been proficient in handling the Test duties with elan, starring in Brisbane and Lord’s victories. What has subsequently gone unnoticed is his success for RCB with the new ball. Siraj became the go-to man for Kohli both with new and old balls.

One of the main reasons for his success in the death overs was his ability to nail the yorkers perfectly and manage to hit the hard length more frequently than the other lengths. Siraj’s importance is escalated not only because of his ability to bowl tough overs but also because Harshal Patel and Kyle Jamieson, despite being Bangalore's leading wicket-takers in IPL 2021, have also been expensive. Amongst bowlers who have bowled at least 20 overs, Jamieson (9.2) and Harshal (9.17) have the fourth-worst and fifth-worst economy rate.  

Skippers’ form in focus?

For KKR, it didn’t help that Eoin Morgan, entrusted with the responsibility of the sheet anchor, failed miserably in the middle overs. In 7 games for KKR in the first half, he managed to score in double digits on only two occasions and finished with one of the lowest averages. However, KKR would hope their return to UAE as a welcome change where their skipper performed exceptionally well in last year’s IPL. The Englishman managed to score 418 runs at an average of 41.8 and an SR of 138 and would be hoping to replicate that form. 

On the other hand, Virat Kohli has just managed 664 runs in 22 games in IPL since 2020 but has a strike rate of just 121.4. He averages almost 74 against spinners in this time period but has a strike rate of just 109.26. In IPL 2021, Virat Kohli has been dismissed in the 30s thrice so far in the 7 innings but with him all set to play the 200th IPL match of his career, he will not have a better occasion to celebrate the milestone. 

Further, Kohli is also just 71 runs short of becoming the fifth player after Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Shoaib Malik, and David Warner to score 10,000 T20 runs. If he does it in the game against KKR, he will be the fastest to do so and he will be the only person in the elite club to average in excess of 40.

Probable XIs

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (c), Devdutt Padikkal, Rajat Patidar, Glenn Maxwell, AB de Villiers (wk), Shahbaz Ahmed, Kyle Jamieson,  Wanindu Hasaranga, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal

Kolkata Knight Riders: Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Eoin Morgan (c), Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Varun Chakravarthy, Harbhajan Singh

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Kolkata Knight Riders vs Royal Challengers BangaloreIndian Premier League, 2021Royal Challengers BangaloreKolkata Knight RidersVirat KohliMohammed SirajEoin Morgan

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