Royal Challengers' slim hopes on the line
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Start time 1600 local (1030 GMT)
The IPL bandwagon finally rolled into Kolkata on May 20, and with the backing of the country's largest crowd, Kolkata Knight Riders started their home campaign with a rout of Chennai Super Kings, winning their fifth successive game. That result took Knight Riders to fourth place, with 14 points in 12 games, creating a clear divide between the top and bottom halves of the points table. Their opponents for Thursday's game, Royal Challengers Bangalore, are a couple of rungs below them with 10 points from 12 games.
With 14 being the most points any team in the bottom half of the table can now aspire to reach, 16 has become the magic number that teams like Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals will want to achieve. If Knight Riders and Royals lose all their upcoming games, and Royal Challengers, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians win all of theirs, there could be five teams tied on 14 points, making for a thrilling last leg of the tournament. However, if Knight Riders win this game, they will move onto 16 points, thereby taking some sting out of the tournament. A loss will be the end of the road for Royal Challengers, leaving Royals, Sunrisers and Mumbai Indians to fight for the only remaining playoff spot.
The moods in the two camps will be very different coming into this game. Knight Riders will be upbeat, with five wins on the trot and their last two games at home. Royal Challengers, on the other hand, have won only two of their last five games and will be reeling from the close defeat to Sunrisers in their last outing.
Kolkata Knight Riders: WWWWW (completed games, most recent first)
Royal Challengers Bangalore: LWWLL
Where they stand
Kolkata Knight Riders: Fourth, with 14 points from 12 games
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Sixth, with 10 points from 12 games
The previous clash between these two teams could well be dubbed the 'Chris Lynn Show'. Lynn had an 80-run partnership with Jacques Kallis, forging a recovery before Royal Challengers restricted Knight Riders to 150 on Sharjah's mirror-like strip. The Royal Challengers batsmen had all but bagged the game and needed nine runs to win off the last over with AB de Villiers at the crease. Four balls into the final over, Lynn's Fosbury Flop on the boundary line dismissed de Villiers and set up a two-run jailbreak for Knight Riders.
Watch out for...
Robin Uthappa has scored 392 runs in the India leg of IPL 2014, with no other batsman having scored even 300. He has eight 40+ scores in this tournament, of which seven have come in consecutive games. Ending this run of astonishing form is bound to be one of Royal Challengers' biggest tests.
The death overs in this match are likely to throw up a good contest. Royal Challengers' average run rate in the last five overs of an innings in IPL 2014 is 11.01 - every other team scores at less than 10 runs per over during this period. Knight Riders on the other hand, are the most miserly bowling team during this phase of the innings, conceding only 8.12 runs per over.
Stats and trivia
- Royals Challengers' recent IPL record against Knight Riders is poor. They have only one win in the last five games between the two sides.
- Chris Gayle and Jacques Kallis have turned out for both Royal Challengers and Knight Riders in the IPL and they are also the top run-scorers in matches between the two teams. Counting the runs scored for both teams, Gayle has 420, while Kallis has 356.
- Gautam Gambhir has scored the most runs against Royal Challengers in the IPL. Of his 454 runs against them, 169 have come while playing for Delhi Daredevils and the rest for Knight Riders.
- Royal Challengers have found Sunil Narine stifling. While he has taken only six wickets against them in the IPL, he has conceded 4.18 runs per over, while giving away more than five an over against all current IPL teams.
"I was never low on confidence. There were times when I was sent in to bat when there were just two or three overs to spare. At that time, if I failed to score, everyone got a feeling that I am low on confidence and out of form."
Knight Riders batsman Yusuf Pathan
"I tend to unknowingly elongate my stride sometimes during my run-up and [Dan sir] keeps an eye out for that and corrects it. [Murali sir] always tells me to bowl confidently, and most importantly, have fun while bowling."
Royal Challengers legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal on the influence of seniors in the Royal Challengers set-up
Bishen Jeswant is a stats sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here.