" Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Robin Uthappa, (wk)Piyush Chawla, Morne Morkel, Sunil Narine,…
KOLKATA:Kolkata Knight Riders will be hoping its spin attack holds its own against the tournament’s most explosive batting outfit, Royal Challengers Bangalore, when the two square off in an IPL fixture at the Eden Gardens here on Monday.
The home side, having 14 points from 11 outings and currently positioned second in the table, is close to securing the play-off berth. Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir would be eager to corner another two points and seal the issue, but what stands in his way is the mighty batting record of Royal Challengers, which is sixth with 10 points from 11 matches.
Two to tango
Royal Challengers’ performance is embellished by the batting finesse of captain Virat Kohli and South African A.B. de Villiers.
The two have tangoed in the imagination of fans with outstanding displays of tremendous hitting.
Their best display came in RCB’s last outing against Gujarat Lions, when de Villiers (129 not out, 52b) and Kohli (109, 55b) ran riot in a 229-run partnership off 96 balls.
While securing a huge 144-run win, the merciless batting display by the Kohli-de Villiers combine propelled RCB to the tournament’s second highest total of 248 for three, which was a few runs short of its own record of 263 for five against Pune Warriors in 2013.
Having scored his third century of the season, Kohli presently owns the ‘Orange Cap’ with a tally of 677 from 11 innings. de Villiers is close behind with an aggregate of 538.
RCB also has another acclaimed big-hitter, Chris Gayle, who can get equally imperious on his day.
KKR captain Gambhir would be hoping his bowlers, especially the spinners, stick to their task against an opponent high on momentum after securing a massive win.
What will give Gambhir confidence is the way his spin troika — West Indian off-spinner Sunil Narine, leg-spinner Piyush Chawla and Bangladesh left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan — enmeshed Rising Pune Supergiants in a web of disciplined bowling in the team’s last win on Saturday.
Batting a concern
While the team’s bowling, which also has the successful West Indian pacer Andre Russell, remains a strong point, what might be worrying Gambhir would be the team’s batting which remains a bit frayed.
The captain himself remains the highest aggregator of runs with a tally of 398 from 11 innings, but the team of late has not been able to secure wins on its batsmen’s performance.
If rain, like it did on Saturday, does not force any interruptions, the world-famous Eden Gardens is in for some good action on Monday.