Run feast expected in KKR's collision with RCB

Both Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore have explosive hitters. Without the weather playing havoc, a run feast is expected at the Eden Gardens.

Chris Gayle, in RCB's previous game, devoured the GL bowlers with a 38-ball 77. KKR would want to get rid of him as soon as possible.   -  K. R. DEEPAK

As overhead clouds and extreme humidity make life difficult here, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) is all set for another stern test, against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Eden Gardens here on Sunday.

Some loss of momentum during batting and a few errant overs during bowling resulted in KKR’s four-wicket defeat to Gujarat Lions (GL) on Friday and reminded the host of the unforgiving nature of the format. Even a target of 188 appeared insufficient as Suresh Raina single-handedly punished the KKR bowlers and ensured GL’s victory.

The host, which could not capitalise on the breathtaking start provided by Sunil Narine, suffered primarily due to its best finisher Manish Pandey’s uncharacteristic 21-ball 24 in the face of GL bowlers’ excellent performance in the death overs.

KKR, which has four wins from six outings, would do well to learn a lesson from Friday’s loss and be more ruthless in its batting. After losing two matches where it set targets, KKR has to get rid of the ‘chasers only’ tag.

Since RCB is studded with several explosive batsmen – such as Chris Gayle, captain Virat Kohli, Travis Head and Kedar Jadhav – the Sunday duel is expected to be a run feast.  AB de Villiers’s availability will bolster RCB’s batting.

RCB has overcome some early season hiccups to combine well as a sound batting unit. Its total of 213 for two against GL the other night stands proof to it.

KKR captain Gautam Gambhir will have to brainstorm about choosing the right combination from the wide choice of bowlers.

READ: Chahal: In IPL, the leg-spinners are always on top

“The batsmen are aggressive in this format, so you need to show your aggression by taking wickets,” said KKR bowling coach L. Balaji.

With their decent success, wicket-taking bowlers such as Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Woakes and Umesh Yadav are likely to form the core of the attack.

RCB too has got good options in bowling. “We have Billy (Stanlake), (Tymal) Mills and Adam (Milne) – three fast bowlers who can bowl 150 kmph. Now you can say we have the bowling strength,” said leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, himself a potent weapon along with fellow spinners Samuel Badree and Pawan Negi.

The rain gods have to be kind enough to allow smooth conduct of the eagerly-anticipated contest.