Dubai: The Kolkata Knight Riders versus Royal Challengers Bangalore clash on Sunday at the Kolkata’s Eden Gardens is expected to be a great treat. Both teams would aim for a winning start to garner psychological advantage as an early momentum is a must in this tournament to gain a boost for the rest of the matches.
The clash has gained special interest after former India captain and coach Anil Kumble’s remark that the 11th edition of the IPL should produce a new winner and that “it’s time” Royal Challengers Bangalore won the title.
The clash is also a battle of two captains, an experienced Virat Kohli of Bangalore versus Dinesh Karthik, the newly appointed captain of the Kolkata team.
Incidentally, Kolkata’s batting coach Simon Katich has called his team the underdogs. “No doubt, we go in as underdogs as RCB are one of the joint favourites to win the title. We look forward to the challenge in proving people wrong,” said Katich.
While Karthik may be inexperienced as captain, his last-ball six to win the T20 tournament for India in Colombo last month has come at a right time and boosted his image as a great fighter, but his opposing captain Kohli is the only player to have represented the same franchise for 11 years.
A packed stadium creates a huge impact and since the match is being held on a Sunday, the turnout will be very high. Loud cheers is what Karthik and his boys will need to egg them on.
The first comment from Karthik to the reporters revealed that a winning start is what he would aim at right now. “I’m aware of the expectations. As a captain, you’re expected to at least go to the playoffs, that’s the least anybody can expect.”
To conquer Bangalore isn’t easy, especially when the rivals are being led by Kohli. Though in paper, Bangalore has always been strong and had come close to winning the trophy thrice in 2009, 2011 and 2016, but never won it. Many fans feel that a team with Brendon McCullum, AB De Villiers, Corey Anderson, Quinton de Kock and the consistent Kohli cannot lose any match.
Their bowling attack is also good with pacers Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav and the spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar. Kohli has lifted the hopes of the Bangalore fans, saying that in the last 10 years he hasn’t had a balance team like he has this time. “We are optimistic about the season. I don’t think we’ve ever had such a balance. We had initially but everyone firing together is also a massive factor,” said Kohli.
To win against Bangalore, it is important to get them bowled out for gettable total. The injury to Kolkata pacer Mitchell Starc is a big blow but Mitchell Johnson is still a dangerous customer. It is important that spinners Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav and under-19 pacers Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi rise to the occasion.
It should be recalled that in 2017 Kolkata had bowled out Bangalore for 49 runs, the lowest score in IPL history. They also lead the head to head count at 12-9 games.