BENGALURU: On a losing streak in the last four matches, Royal Challengers Bengalore are expected to ring in changes and experiment in search of their first win when they take on Kolkata Knight Riders in an IPL match here Friday.
RCB’s performance this IPL has been disappointing, both with the bat and ball, and a dejected captain Virat Kohli has conceded that his struggling team is yet to get the right balance but will continue experimenting with its combinations.
They lost their last game by seven wickets against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur and now they will be up against a balanced KKR side, who have won two matches out of three they have played so far.
Last time, the RCB beat KKR was in May 2016 at Eden Gardens and they have suffered defeats in their last three encounters against the Kolkata-based side at Chinnaswamy Stadium here.
Batting collapse is the biggest worrying factor for RCB and to made matters worse captain Kohli’s form has not been up to the mark by his high standards. He has managed a below 20 average in four games. Parthiv Patel and AB de Villiers are the only batsmen who have above 20 average.
In their first match against Chennai Super Kings, RCB were bowled out for a paltry 70 in 17.1 overs after their top-order crumbled before the bowling of Harbhajan Singh and Imran Tahir.
Against Sunrisers Hyderabad, the RCB bowlers allowed SRH to post a mammoth 232 with centuries from Jonny Bairstow and David Warner. RCB then collapsed to an embarrassing 35 for 6 in the eighth over, with Kohli and de Villiers contributing just four runs between them. In the end, they were skittled out for 113 to lose the match by a massive 118 runs.
Against Rajasthan Royals too, RCB top order failed, except Parthiv who scored a half century. The RCB think-tank would be hoping that their top order batsmen come out with flying colours on Friday against KKR.
Despite their struggling form, Kohli and de Villiers are nearing personal milestones. Kohli is 17 runs away from becoming the second Indian cricketer after Suresh Raina to complete 8,000 T20 runs and de Villiers 15 runs short of becoming the second highest T20 run-scorer for RCB. He has 3,406 runs under his belt.
The bowling department has also been disappointing. Apart from Yuzvendra Chahal, all the other RCB bowlers have not been among wickets and have conceded far too many runs in death overs.
Though KKR lost their last game by 3 runs in Super Over against Delhi Capitals, their confidence level is still high with their batsmen, including Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Robin Uthappa and Shubhman Gill, being in top form.
Russell has been in sensational form with his incredible power-hitting ability that helped KKR win two matches. Restricting him will be a challenge for Chahal and company.
Rana has been impressive as an opener and in the middle order too in the first two games. The performance of Gill will be watched keenly since he is tipped to be a future India star.
The Teams (From):
Royal Challengers Bengalore: Virat Kohli (capt), Parthiv Patel, AB de Villiers, Colin de Grandhomme, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Moeen Ali, Shimron Hetmyer, Shivam Dube, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Devdutt Padikkal, Himmat Singh, Milind Kumar, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Heinrich Klaasen, Pawan Negi, Washington Sundar, Akshdeep Nath, Prayas Barman, Kulwant Khejroliya, Tim Southee.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (capt), Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Nitish Rana, Nikhil Naik, Joe Denly, Shrikant Mundhe, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Harry Gurney, K C Cariappa and Yarra Prithviraj.
Match starts 8pm.