Lara expects Kolkata to "destroy" Bangalore in Eliminator

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safari
08 Oct 2021 | 05:18 AM
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Lara expects Kolkata to "destroy" Bangalore in Eliminator

The two-time champions bundled out RCB for just 92 runs in the league stage and then chased it down in 10 overs

Former West Indies captain Brian Lara feels Kolkata Knight Riders can once again "destroy" Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Eliminator of the Indian Premier League 2021. Kolkata hammered Rajasthan Royals by 86 runs on Thursday and are almost through to the playoffs where they are most likely to take on Virat Kohli and Co.

Kolkata started their second leg with a thumping win over Bangalore in Abu Dhabi. The two-time champions bundled out RCB for just 92 runs and then chased it down in 10 overs. That win helped Kolkata turned their fortunes around as they won five of their last seven encounters.

"Now that Lockie Ferguson is fit, his inclusion could prove to be the deciding factor. I am hearing Russell too it is close to full fitness and that would be a major addition to the team. They destroyed RCB in the second half and I can see that happening again," Lara told Cricket.com.

"The fact that AB de Villiers is still scratching around for some runs, Virat Kohli is ‘in and out’  and I think KKR would have an advantage. But, I know it’s going to be an amazing encounter. Virat is just a couple of games away from his maiden IPL title and I don’t think he is going to leave this opportunity hanging."

The Eoin Morgan-led side had to win their last league game against Rajasthan to qualify for the playoffs and they did it in some style. Mumbai Indians will now need a miracle against Sunrisers Hyderabad if they want to make it through to the playoffs. Rohit Sharma and Co. (-0.048) will have to win by around 171 runs after scoring 200 to get past Kolkata's NRR (+0.587). And, if they chase, they can't go beyond KKR's NRR. 

Asked to bat on a two-paced Sharjah surface, Shubman Gill (56) and Venkatesh Iyer (38) added 79 runs for the opening wicket and got Kolkata off to a solid start. Kolkata only managed 55 runs in the first nine overs before shifting gears in the final 11. They smashed 116 runs in the last 11 overs and finished with a formidable total of 171/4 in 20 overs - the highest total registered in Sharjah this season. Shivam Mavi (4/21) and Lockie Ferguson (3/18) then wreaked havoc in the second innings and bundled Rajasthan out for mere 85 runs in 16.1 overs.

"It's strange! I thought Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy will play a massive role against Rajasthan Royals but it was the pace and low bounce and the players playing across the line way too much that did the trick. They didn't even try to bat out of the crease and stride towards the ball. We didn't just see medium seamers do the job but it was Ferguson too with his serious pace," said Lara.

"It’s one of those surfaces in which you have to grind and try different methods to score runs. You can’t take too many risks on this surface. Even someone like Shubman Gill could have easily dragged back a couple of deliveries onto the stumps. Batting is a difficult task on this pitch but it’s not impossible. Gill scored a fifty and even the way Rahul Tewatia (44) batted. You can time the ball but you need to know how to do it."

Rajasthan skipper Sanju Samson had his best IPL season with the bat but even then his team could only win five of their 14 games and finished second last on the points table. Lara said he was pleased with the amount of maturity Samson displayed but wants the team management to get their combination right ahead of the next season.

"There was a change of approach from Sanju Samson in terms of his batting and it looked good for a while, but in the last couple of games in Sharjah, I was disappointed with him. The surface didn’t suit his batting style but I saw him change his batting style where he was aggressive and felt a bit more responsible towards his batting. 

"He held the innings together in quite a few games and set an example for the others which I quite liked. But I think the team management will have to get the right group of players to make a difference next season." 

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Kolkata Knight Riders vs Rajasthan RoyalsIndian Premier League, 2021Kolkata Knight RidersRajasthan RoyalsRoyal Challengers BangaloreBrian LaraSanju SamsonLockie Ferguson

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