Bangalore v Kolkata, IPL 2013, Bangalore April 10, 2013

Misfiring Kolkata seek batting revival

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Match facts

Thursday, April 11, 2013
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)

Big Picture

It's the start of the second week of the tournament and defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders' engine is yet to fire properly. They are now in Bangalore, facing the Royal Challengers, who despite their Super Over loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad have already started to rev up their machinery with last night's win in the rematch.

Knight Riders have a strong and vibrant bowling attack. Brett Lee has been generating pace, Rajat Bhatia has been difficult to go after and Sunil Narine is back at being mysterious after a comparatively not-so-productive time in international cricket. But it is their batting which has appeared off colour, with only Eoin Morgan managing a half-century. Manvinder Bisla, the hero of the final last year, has been consumed twice by his own aggression, while Jacques Kallis, Manoj Tiwary and Yusuf Pathan are yet to show any intent. Gautam Gambhir has had starts, but as he often reiterates, the team needs to fire collectively.

However, they have received a boost ahead of this game. Brendon McCullum, who kicked off the IPL in 2008 with a blazing 158 (still the highest score in IPL cricket), is available for selection.* The New Zealand captain had to postpone his trip, having to wait to recover completely from the hamstring injury he picked during the home series against England last month. He joined the Knight Riders camp on Wednesday.

Royal Challengers Bangalore's batting has an intimidating aura around it. It has also been bolstered with the addition of AB de Villiers and their bowling attack, despite the seesawing fortunes of Vinay Kumar, has shown incisiveness. However, their bottom half of the batting order appears thin, at least on paper, and will be tested if their top falters against Narine and Co.

Players to watch

AB de Villiers is one of those rare batsmen currently around in international cricket who is as dangerous in Tests as he is in Twenty20s. He can play the most soothing of shots and then follow it up with the most outrageous one. Give him the gloves and he transforms to a more than capable wicketkeeper. Add to that his value as an athletic fielder. He joined the team on Tuesday morning and played a match later that evening. On Thursday, he will be fresh.

Eoin Morgan is a player made for the shorter format. He is quick on his feet against the spinners and can hit the ball long. He showed his value on a pacy Jaipur pitch with a well-paced half-century - only his second in 14 matches for the franchise - that kept Knight Riders in the match, and in Bangalore, he is his team's only man in form.

Stats and trivia

  • Knight Riders lead the head-to-head 6-5 in 11 matches between these two teams
  • Yusuf Pathan's strike rate in 44 matches for Knight Riders is 124.68. In 43 matches for Rajasthan Royals, his strike rate was 161. He is yet to score a half-century for Knight Riders.
  • Knights Riders have the highest team score of 222 in Bangalore, from the opening match of IPL 2008. Royal Challengers' highest score on this ground came in 2011, when they scored 205 against Kings XI Punjab.

Quotes

"We should have chased down the score. As champions, you cannot afford to do that. We were not smart at all."
Gautam Gambhir, after Knight Riders' loss to Rajasthan Royals

"We can't say we are not able to win matches if Gayle fails."
Royal Challengers' RP Singh believes the team has enough firepower in batting

*03.30GMT, April 11: The preview has been updated with the Brendon McCullum news

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Paiudupi on April 11, 2013, 10:25 GMT

    Without doubt, RCB is the winner. Stat is very simple. In the first match, Mumbai could have easily chased down the target given by RCB and won it, which was not beyond reach. But, the way RCB bowled and fielded, they deserved to win this match. Second Match with Sunrisers Hyderabad. It was a very low scoring target of only 130 runs on board, which RCB defended well and gone to super over and won luckily by Hyderabad. So, RCB is much stronger than KKR and RCB must win this comfortably.

  • TiTAN000 on April 11, 2013, 10:08 GMT

    For me - 1. mCcullum 2.Gambhir 3. Kallis 4. Manoj 5. Morgan 6. Pathan 7. Bhatia 8. Narine 9. Balaji 10. Ikbal 11.S.Ahmed

  • sahir2016 on April 11, 2013, 9:41 GMT

    It's a tricky situation for KKR as they have to decide which of the two players from brett lee, McCullum and Morgan are gonna play. They can not drop morgan as he is the only one who fired in the previous fixture and they should play McCullum to add that gayle-like explosive factor. So unfortunately thay would have to drop Brett lee and play Balaji instead. All the best to the both teams though, KKR should be able to win this if they manage to put runs on the board.

  • ibbani on April 11, 2013, 9:35 GMT

    Hmm, too many Anti RCB comments. Wonder what they did for you all? you guys can't tolerate their win and the way they win. KKR also dont have bowlers who can win matches, KKR does not have batsmen who can win matchs for them as they could not chase against RR. RCB is good as they tied with SRH for 130 while defending.

  • Pinaki91 on April 11, 2013, 9:33 GMT

    I hope they don't drop Morgan to accommodate McCullam. On current form it should be Kallis. It also gives them the option to try a domestic batsman in place of Bisla.

  • cricketanyday on April 11, 2013, 9:14 GMT

    its Ugadi, and fans will be hoping that RCB gives them the new year gift by winning today's match. Iam sure Vinay will go all out to prove he is a match winner on his own.

  • ipl2sux on April 11, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    rcb dont have any match winning bowler except murali.expect a high scoring match.

  • dummy4fb on April 11, 2013, 9:11 GMT

    Sachithra Senanayake should be given a chance as he is an all-rounder he can be a good asset. Team should be 1. McCullum 2. Kallis/Lee 3. Gambhir 4.Yusuf 5. Morgan 6. Tiwary 7.D.Das 8. Sachithraa 9.Rajat bhatia 10.Narine 11. Balaji

  • dummy4fb on April 11, 2013, 9:04 GMT

    today should be play 1.McCullam 2.Kallis 3.Naraine 4.Sakib ul hassan 5.Gambhir 6.Bisla 7.Pathan 8.Balaji 9.D Das 10.Bhatia 11.S Ahmed

  • Qa_ankit on April 11, 2013, 8:59 GMT

    @Yusuf Pathan: 44 Matches, average don't know but i can imagine that if you haven't score even a single 50, leave strike rate. I have a gut feeling for you that you will not be getting more chances now in KKR. So forgot about Indian Cap. Get back to RR, which may turn your fortunes. Else Big bro is going have to have troubles.