IPL 2021: KKR gears up for RCB challenge in attempt to salvage season

Kolkata Knight Riders will square off against Royal Challengers Bangalore in match 30 of the 2021 Indian Premier League at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

Eoin Morgan's KKR (R), which occupies the seventh spot in the 2021 IPL standings, will take on Virat Kohli-led third-placed RCB on Monday (File Photo).   -  BCCI/IPL

A fifth loss in seven matches, caused by another batting failure, annoyed Kolkata Knight Riders head coach Brendon McCullum to a great extent. McCullum’s instructions to play attacking cricket fell on deaf ears, prompting the Kiwi to suggest that a change in personnel is warranted when KKR takes on Royal Challengers Bangalore in Ahmedabad on Monday.

The likes of Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill and Rahul Tripathi have been patchy. Captain Eoin Morgan has struggled as well, having managed to score only 92 runs in seven outings. The opening pair of Rana and Gill has failed to exploit the early fielding restrictions -- an unpardonable fault in T20 cricket.

To get some quick runs up top, KKR could revert to its old and efficient strategy of using Sunil Narine as a pinch-hitting opener. If McCullum is serious about changing the playing eleven, the likes of Venkatesh Iyer, Sheldon Jackson, Karun Nair and Gurkeerat Singh are available to do his bidding.

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On the bowling front, pacers Pat Cummins and Prasidh Krishna lead the pack with nine and eight wickets, respectively.

RCB, meanwhile, will look to bounce back from a 34-run loss to Punjab Kings on Friday. The match was an example of the side’s reliance on batting stars Virat Kohli, Devdutt Padikkal, Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers, and how things can go south if they don’t perform. The support cast of Rajat Patidar, Daniel Sams and Shahbaz Ahmed need to step up and play their role effectively.

The Narendra Modi Stadium pitch has offered turn, evidenced by PBKS left-arm spinner Harpreet Brar's match-winning three-wicket haul against RCB. In Narine and Varun Chakravarthy, KKR has two quality slow bowlers who can exploit these conditions. The form of RCB leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, however, has been a worry. Chahal, who until last season was RCB’s most dependable bowler, has taken four wickets at an average of 47.5 thus far.

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