The Indian T20 League is staring at another promising face-off on Wednesday in KKR vs RCB, which will be the thirty-ninth league match of the season. The race at the top of the table is getting heated up with a few surprising outcomes at the beginning of the week. Captain Eoin Morgan, however, will look to avoid surprises as they take Virat Kohli’s high-flying side in the return leg.
Kolkata have faced Bangalore 25 times so far, including the fixture last week, with the two-time champions winning on 14 occasions and losing 11. The knights have won three of the five encounters and with a must-win clash coming up, Brendon McCullum would hope his side to regain their lost confidence.
AB de Villiers vs Shubman Gill
Though Virat Kohli and Aaron Finch have been found chipping in for the team from time to time, Bangalore’s real hero has been –AB de Villiers and last week was an absolute testament to the T20 entertainer. After the South African’s massive 33-balls-73 helped Bangalore put up a steep target against Kolkata, which they eventually won, De Villiers’ quickfire 55 helped his side beat Rajasthan as well.
Shubman Gill has faced a lot of criticism for his unimpressive strike rate in the tournament so far. While the Punjab lad has amassed 311 runs for his side with an average of 38.87, his strike rate has been dangling at a discouraging 113.91. However, having explosive openers like Rahul Tripathi and Tom Banton at the other end, the youngster doesn’t need to fire from the word go and could play the role of an anchor.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Since his path-breaking season in 2013, where Aaron Finch had garnered 456 runs, the Australian opener has been largely conservative. However, playing safely has worked in Finch’s favour so far this season, with Kohli, Devdutt Padikkal and De Villiers able to express themselves better. Though Finch has been inconsistent, his short knocks have kept Bangalore alive in many encounters.
Kolkata have been one of Virat Kohli’s favourite opponents. And with the Indian skipper finding a stupendous form of late, Kohli will fancy his chances on Wednesday for sure. After having missed out on a 50 by seven and two runs in his last two matches, respectively, the aggressive top-order batsman is expected to get his half-century for the first time in three games.
It is unfortunate how an impressive Rahul Tripathi hasn’t had a steady batting position in the Kolkata line-up so far, despite showing the acumen of a T20 batsman. The batsman has been shuffled from opening to the middle order to a tail-ender over the last six games and it is time Morgan gave him a longer rope in the opening slot. After his quick 23-run knock against Hyderabad, Tripathi is expected to do the same against Bangalore.
Kolkata: Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik, Pat Cummins, Shivam Mavi, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Varun Chakravarthy
Bangalore: Devdutt Padikkal, Aaron Finch, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Washington Sundar, Chris Morris, Shahbaz Ahmed, Isuru Udana, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal
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