Royal Challengers v Knight Riders, IPL 2014, Sharjah April 23, 2014

KKR bowling v RCB batting might

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Agarkar: Target Bangalore with pace

Match facts

Royal Challengers Bangalore v Knight Riders Kolkata, Sharjah
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Start time 1830 (1430 GMT, 2000 IST)

Big Picture

Royal Challengers Bangalore have made one of their best starts to the tournament by winning their first two matches comprehensively and with the likely return of Chris Gayle, who missed the first two games due to a sore back, they will look to keep up with the marauding Kings XI Punjab at the top of the table. But Kolkata Knight Riders, the team that gave Royal Challengers a historic mauling on that fateful night six years ago at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, do have a decent spanner, in the form of their bowling attack, to throw in Royal Challengers' works.

How Sunil Narine and Co bowl to the glitzy batting stars could well define the outcome of the match. Although the trio of Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and AB de Villiers have all had one good innings under their belts, Narine has the ability to run through line-ups like he did in the first game against Mumbai Indians and other Knight Riders bowlers have a wealth of experience at this level. In fact, the bowler who has taken most wickets in Knight Riders v Royal Challengers matches - Vinay Kumar, 13 - has switched sides to move east. The odds, though, are still in favour of Royal Challengers given Knight Riders' unreliable batting order.

Like The Dakar, the Indian Premier League is a long and gruelling race and it is just entering its second and last week of the desert phase. Where teams stand at the end of the league stage may still be decided by what happens in India in the month of May, but it won't hurt to make the most of what is on offer in the Gulf.

Watch out for ...

While their batting line-up almost always hogs the attention, Royal Challengers' bowlers have had a solid part to play in the team's victories. In 40 overs, they have given away 260 runs, which means they are the most economical attack so far. The man leading their bowling charts is Yuzvendra Chahal, the young legspinner from Haryana. He has had a good start to the tournament but can he keep up the consistency?

Gautam Gambhir was the pillar of Knight Riders' title win in the 2012, but with two ducks in two matches, he has often left the team in peril. Luckily for him, two of the team's fresh domestic recruits have hit the ground running, but as the past results have shown, the team's fortunes are intertwined with Gambhir's batting form.

Stats and trivia

  • In the first two matches, Parthiv Patel has hit more boundaries than the combined number for the rest of the Royal Challegers batting line-up
  • Knight Riders have won six out of their 12 matches against Royal Challengers

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo