Tough task for misfiring Knight Riders
Match factsSeptember 29, Bangalore
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Royal Challengers Bangalore lost a close match to the Warriors in the tournament opener and, if they are to make the semi-finals without net run-rates and other favourable results coming into the equation, a win here is a must. Their task has become tougher, with AB de Villiers ruled out of the tournament with a broken finger, fractured during practice on the match eve. Despite the extra pressure to win and de Villiers' absence, they go in as favourites against the underperforming Kolkata Knight Riders.
The Knight Riders' semi-final chances already seem bleak. They have lost consecutive games, and compounding their problems is a poor net run-rate of -0.624. To progress, they would have to produce two convincing wins - here and on October 1 against Warriors - and then hope for the results of other Group B games to go their way.
The Royal Challengers were on top at several stages in their opener, but let the game slip each time. If their batsmen get starts, like most of the top order did against Warriors, they will need to drive the advantage home better. If the bowlers manage to knock over most of the opposition's batting, they will need to finish them off without allowing the sort of partnership Ashwell Prince and Johan Botha produced in that game.
The Knight Riders' batting has faltered repeatedly, even after Gautam Gambhir's return. Batting first, they managed a total of just over a run-a-ball against Auckland in the qualifier, and looked on course for another poor score against Somerset in the main draw until a late Yusuf Pathan blitz. While chasing, the top order has failed, leaving the like of Ryan ten Doeschate with too much to do at back end of the innings. They have problems on the bowling front as well. The spin trio of Iqbal Abdulla, Yusuf Pathan and Shakib Al Hasan haven't had the impact they had in IPL 2011.
Watch out for …
Ryan ten Doeschate has looked the best of the Knight Riders' fielders and batsmen so far. They must play him higher up the order, possibly at No. 3, to make better use of his ability.
Daniel Vettori has the second-best economy rate in Twenty20 cricket (200 overs minimum) and bowled a typically effective spell against Warriors - 2 for 26 off four overs. If would be interesting to see how he fares against the big-hitting Yusuf and ten Doeschate.
Tillakaratne Dilshan is likely to replace the injured AB de Villiers in the Royal Challengers' XI, and could be asked to keep wicket. Their other wicketkeeping option is Arun Karthik, who, if used, would probably come in for Mohammad Kaif. Current form dictates the Knight Riders should strengthen their batting. Brad Haddin might get a look-in, in place of Shakib Al Hasan.
Stats and trivia
- Rajat Bhatia, surprisingly, has been the Knight Riders' most effective bowler, conceding 6.20 runs per over, while averaging 20.00
- The Knight Riders' biggest win ever came against the Royal Challengers - a 140-run win in the IPL curtain-raiser. However, both teams are virtually unrecognisable from that match
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Nikita Bastian is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo