Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have been encountered with some injury concerns prior to their opening game against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Kolkata. Probably, that’s one of the reasons why Simon Katich, the batting coach of the Knights have labeled the Knights as ‘underdogs’ going into their first match in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Dinesh Karthik and his men will have their task cut out and will need to bring forth their A game in order to humble the might of Virat Kohli’s boys. On the other hand, RCB has an explosive lineup in their armoury.
They had a forgettable season last time around having finished at the bottom of the table. Nevertheless, they are deemed to be one of the favourites of this season.
Meanwhile, RCB would be hoping to shrug the disappointment of their erstwhile encounter against the Knights where they were bowled out for a paltry 49 runs.
However, the combination of both teams have changed ever since and the visitors will have every chance to avenge their defeat. All in all, Eden Gardens will be in for another jaw-dropping encounter.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Kolkata Knight Riders have an explosive lineup going into the opening game. Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn who tormented bowling attacks in the previous season are the likely openers followed by Nitish Rana.
Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik will have additional responsibilities, being the senior members of the franchise. Shubman Gill and Andre Russell will lend depth to the batting unit.
The Knights also have variety in their bowling lineup. Andre Russell and Mitchell Johnson will spearhead the pace attack with the spunk of Kamlesh Nagarkoti in the ranks.
Sunil Narine’s guile and trajectory will again be key to India’s chances in the game. Meanwhile, Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla will lead the Indian contingent of the spin attack.
Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Nitish Rana, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik (capt & wk), Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Mitchell Johnson, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Kamlesh Nagarkoti
Royal Challengers Bangalore
RCB might go with the left-hand and right-handed combination of Patel and McCullum as the openers. Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers are expected to be the backbone of the team for yet another year.
However, it will be interesting to see their strategies with Sarfraz Khan, who was retained prior to the auction in Bangalore.
Pawan Negi and Chris Woakes role lower down the order might also be required if RCB loses that many wickets. In the bowling department, the Challengers have three pacers and spinners each.
Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar has been stupendous for India and will be expected to replicate the same. Umesh Yadav, Kiwi pacer Tim Southee and Chris Woakes form the fast-bowling contingent.
Parthiv Patel (wk), Brendon McCullum, Virat Kohli (capt), AB de Villiers, Sarfraz Khan, Pawan Negi, Chris Woakes, Washington Sundar, Tim Southee, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav
Players to watch out for
Chris Lynn- Kolkata Knight Riders
Chris Lynn has been phenomenal for the Knights in the previous season, though he missed a significant amount of games due to a shoulder injury.
The onus will be on Chris Lynn to get a substantial score under his belt and challenge the explosive batting lineup of RCB. Meanwhile, the Knights would also be hoping for the Queenslander to not suffer any injury during their opening game.
Virat Kohli- Royal Challengers Bangalore
Virat Kohli had an abysmal run for RCB in 2017, both as a skipper and as a batsman. The Delhi-born cricketer has been in prime form ever since.
The franchise would be pinning hopes on their leader to get themselves off to a victory against the Knights. Kohli was rested for India’s previous triangular series and is expected to be fresh ahead of the T20 extravaganza.
Head to Head
Played- 20, KKR- 11, RCB- 9, NR/Tie- 0
Virat Kohli scored 391 runs against KKR at an average of 26.06 in the IPL. It is the 2nd lowest batting average for any player against KKR. (Min: 350 runs).
Piyush Chawla bagged 18 wickets against RCB in the IPL. Ashish Nehra (23) and Harbhajan Singh (18) are the other players with as many wickets against RCB.
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