IPL 2018: All eyes on new skipper Karthik as KKR faces RCB

The challenge that Dinesh Karthik faces as the new captain of Kolkata Knight Riders is more about convincing his own franchise and the fans that his appointment at the helm of one of the most successful teams in the IPL is a fair decision.

The challenge that Dinesh Karthik faces as the new captain of Kolkata Knight Riders is more about convincing his own franchise and the fans that his appointment at the helm of one of the most successful teams in the IPL is a fair decision.

The departure of Gautam Gambhir, who had captained KKR for seven seasons, while securing two crowns for it, is a major change in the outfit that has also seen a significant overhaul in the team’s composition this season. The Knights, under Karthik, will be facing one of the toughest challenges right at the start when it comes up against one of the title aspirants in Royal Challengers Bangalore, at the Eden Gardens here, on Sunday evening.

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Considering the high demand for tickets, the venue is gripped with expectations about a great contest. This is augmented by the fact that the opposition is led by the charismatic Indian captain Virat Kohli, who has been in spectacular form in the last few months. In an odd juxtaposition, Karthik, who has been in and out of the Indian team, is the one who has given the country one of the most memorable wins with a last-ball six against Bangladesh in the final of the Nidahas Trophy in Colombo. It has reclaimed Karthik’s stature as a batsman who can turn matches around and induced the necessary confidence in the team that he is now leading.

 

Another aspect that Karthik will be finding in his favour is the positive head-to-head record of 12-9 that KKR enjoys over its current rival. Added to this is the fact that the last meting between the two saw KKR winning convincingly (by 82 runs) after restricting RCB to the lowest IPL total of 49. Being a side that has always invested more on having a good bowling attack, KKR will be looking to find the right balance in attack with names likes of left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav, leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, off-spinner Sunil Narine and the pacers like Mitchell Johnson and young Tom Curran in the roster. Karthik, along with Chris Lynn and Robin Uthappa, will have the onus of the batting department with the all-rounder Andre Russell adding strength.

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The visitor will be looking more at its leader Kohli, who has grown in stature after leading India to convincing limited-overs series win in South Africa. Despite releasing the Caribbean hurricane Chirs Gayle, Kohli will have the company of AB de Villiers, with whom he has done the most of bating in IPL.