At six weeks, the IPL can seem like a short tournament. But if you get on a losing run - the kind Royal Challengers Bangalore are in right now - even six weeks can seem like an eternity.
But not all is lost for Virat Kohli and Royal Challengers. In the past, teams have come back from five losses to reach the playoffs, and even redeemed themselves from 0-5 behind to win the tournament. So a win and the momentum it brings could turn things for Royal Challengers.
There are too many questions surrounding Royal Challengers. Does their bowling make opponents fear? Probably not, and we saw that in their game against Sunrisers Hyderabad, where two world-class openers made maximum use of a below-par attack. As for their batting, Royal Challengers have not fielded an unchanged opening combination so far, and their overseas options have not yet fired.
Shimron Hetmyer, who has fallen three times to the ball turning away this season, may be the first name out of the XI for their match against Kolkata Knight Riders. Knight Riders normally bowl 12 overs of spin and one of Royal Challengers' domestic batsmen could be a better choice than Hetmyer.
Not only are Royal Challengers trying to avoid a fifth-straight loss in the season, they're also looking to stop Knight Riders from winning a fifth straight match against them. Knight Riders have lost just one game so far and that, too, was close. Nitish Rana has collected two Man-of-the-Match awards. Andre Russell has been good with the ball, and destructive with the bat. Robin Uthappa has found form, and Kuldeep Yadav has shown he can help Knight Riders defend nearly anything.
Knight Riders enter the game as massive favourites, but they'll know that as long as Kohli leads Royal Challengers, the team will never raise a white flag.
In the news
Nathan Coulter-Nile has not yet linked up with Royal Challengers. He was supposed to join the side with Marcus Stoinis from the UAE, but is expected to join on 13th. Sunil Narine, who missed out on Knight Riders' last game, has been declared fully fit and should be back in the XI.
Last season, Knight Riders chased down scores of 176 and 177 as they complete the double against Royal Challengers. Knight Riders' opening batsmen, Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine, were the Players of the Match on both occasions.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Marcus Stoinis, 2 Parthiv Patel (wk), 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Moeen Ali, 6 Shivam Dube, 7 Akshdeep Nath, 8 Tim Southee, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Navdeep Saini, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Make AB de Villiers face Sunil Narine or Piyush Chawla. He's been out to the offbreak or googly in three games so far, and has a strike-rate of only 100 against spinners this season. De Villiers averages only 5.60 against the googly and 9.75 against the offbreak. Dinesh Karthik, however, might want to keep Kuldeep Yadav out of de Villiers' way. Against left-arm wristspinners since IPL 2015, de Villiers scores at a strike-rate of 300, scoring a boundary every 2.2 deliveries.
If Royal Challengers play Shimron Hetmyer, he should bat at No. 3. That would make Kohli the opener, but there's a case for Hetmyer to bat in that position. In 16 T20s at No. 3, Hetmyer averages 32.10 at a strike-rate of 144.70. At any other position - which he's batted in 10 times - Hetmyer's average is less than 10. At the CPL 2018, he was the highest run-scorer among West Indians, where he batted all games at No. 3.
Stats and trivia
Royal Challengers have dropped nine of the 19 catches they have attempted in IPL 2019
Virat Kohli needs 17 to reach 8000 in T20s
Chris Lynn's strike-rate of 94.90 this season is the second-worst among all batsmen who have played at least three games this season. Only Ambati Rayudu's strike-rate of 60.70 is worse. Kohli, at 98.70, is fifth-worst.
In IPL 2019, Andre Russell has a strike-rate of 258.80 against seam bowlers and 207.70 against spin.