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ENG v PAK (W) (1)
36th Match (D/N), Eden Gardens, April 21, 2024, Indian Premier League

KKR won by 1 run

Player Of The Match
27* (20) & 3/25
Cricinfo's MVP
119.24 ptsImpact List

RCB have Narine to tackle, again, with their campaign starting to go belly-up

KKR are at No. 3 on the points table, while RCB are bottom, and have lost their last five games in a row

Hemant Brar
Hemant Brar

Match details

Kolkata Knight Riders (2nd; W4, L2) vs Royal Challengers Bengaluru (10th; W1, L6)
Kolkata, 1530 IST (1000 GMT)

Big picture - Narine vs RCB

With five defeats in a row, and just two points from seven games, RCB are fighting for survival. They are at the bottom of the points table and a defeat against KKR on Sunday will push them to the brink of elimination.
To avoid that, their batters will have to win the battle against KKR's spinners, especially Sunil Narine.
Virat Kohli has been the torch-bearer of RCB's batting for years, but in the last few years, spin has proven to be his kryptonite in T20s. Since the start of 2020, his strike rate against spin is 113.52. During the same period, he has struck at 145.79 against pace.
However, Kohli seems to have addressed this issue somewhat and has scored at a much more respectable 130.09 against spin in IPL 2024. He even dominated Narine (21 off 12) when these two sides met earlier in the tournament. But it will not be easy at Eden Gardens, especially if the pitch is on the slower side. Kohli's overall record against Narine is not great either: 162 runs off 157 balls with four dismissals.
And it's not just Kohli. Faf du Plessis and Dinesh Karthik have also struggled to score freely against Narine. Du Plessis has a strike rate of 77.14 against him and Karthik 119.29. So far this season, Narine has seven wickets in six games at an excellent economy of 6.87.
Narine has been just as exceptional with the bat. Back as opener, and despite the two-bouncer rule, he has scored 276 runs at a strike rate of 187.75. Previously, fast bowlers would get him out with the short ball. This time, too, he has not looked in control against the short ball at all times, but has managed to survive and has made oppositions pay. RCB have already got a taste of that in their previous meeting with KKR.

Form guide

Kolkata Knight Riders LWLWW (last five matches, most recent first)
Royal Challengers Bengaluru LLLLL

Previous meeting

Earlier in the season, KKR thrashed RCB by seven wickets at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Batting first, RCB posted 182 for 6 with Kohli scoring an unbeaten 83 off 59 balls. In response, Narine smashed 47 off 22 balls and Venkatesh Iyer 50 off 30 as KKR chased down the target in the 17th over.

Team news and impact player strategy

Kolkata Knight Riders
Given the RCB batters' sub-par record against spin, there is a case to play a third spinner, Suyash Sharma, in place of Vaibhav Arora. One of Suyash and Ramandeep Singh could be the impact player, depending on whether KKR are batting first or bowling.
Probable XII: 1 Phil Salt (wk), 2 Sunil Narine, 3 Angkrish Raghuvanshi, 4 Shreyas Iyer (capt), 5 Venkatesh Iyer, 6 Andre Russell, 7 Rinku Singh, 8 Ramandeep Singh, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Varun Chakravarthy, 11 Harshit Rana, 12 Suyash Sharma/Vaibhav Arora
Royal Challengers Bengaluru
With Glenn Maxwell on a break, Will Jacks is likely to continue at No. 3. RCB may consider bringing in Mayank Dagar for Yash Dayal. Anuj Rawat and Dagar could be their impact pair.
Probable XII: 1 Virat Kohli, 2 Faf du Plessis (capt), 3 Will Jacks, 4 Rajat Patidar, 5 Saurav Chauhan, 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Mahipal Lomror, 8 Anuj Rawat, 9 Vijaykumar Vyshak, 10 Reece Topley, 11 Lockie Ferguson, 12 Mayank Dagar/Yash Dayal

In the spotlight - Mitchell Starc and Faf du Plessis

Mitchell Starc, the most expensive buy in IPL history, started the season poorly but has started to show signs of settling in. Overall, though, in six games, he has just five wickets and his economy of 10.54 is the poorest among KKR's frontline bowlers. With no other experienced seamer in the squad, KKR will need Starc to turn his season around sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, Dinesh Karthik is having a dream season. He has consistently provided RCB with strong finishes and is their third-highest run-scorer with a tally of 226 in six innings. Among those who have scored at least 200 runs this season, his strike rate of 205.45 is the highest. In fact, in four of his six innings, he has struck at more than 230. If he continues in the same manner, he could even find himself in India's T20 World Cup squad, which he said will be "the greatest feeling" for him at this stage of his career.

Pitch and conditions

So far this season, Eden Gardens has hosted three games. In two of those, 200 was breached in all four innings. In the third, KKR chased down 162 against Lucknow Super Giants in the 16th over. But it needs to be seen whether it will be another run fest or KKR will dish out a slightly different surface. Given it's an afternoon game, there will be a temptation to bat first on winning the toss.

Stats that matter


"It's not the most talented team that goes on to win the IPL. It's the most courageous team, that's willing to fight till the last drop of blood, will go on to win the IPL."
Gautam Gambhir on what makes an IPL-winning team
"The belief is definitely there. If you don't have belief, there is no point playing a tournament like the IPL. Every year there will be a couple of teams at this stage trying to find their feet and there have been so many instances when they have picked up and won the matches. We believe that if we can do something special and win a few matches, we could get that momentum - that interesting word that always happens in the IPL - and use that to our confidence."
Dinesh Karthik on RCB's playoff chances

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Win Probability
KKR 100%
100%50%100%KKR InningsRCB Innings

Over 20 • RCB 221/10

Karn Sharma c & b Starc 20 (7b 0x4 3x6 17m) SR: 285.71
Lockie Ferguson run out (Singh/†Salt) 1 (1b 0x4 0x6 2m) SR: 100
KKR won by 1 run
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