Kolkata Knight Riders vs Royal Challengers Bangalore: Preview and Prediction
Royal Challengers Bangalore returns to the battlefield of the Indian Premier League after kick-starting their 2023 with a thumping triumph in the opening game. They will be summoned by the Kolkata Knight Riders side which is still looking for the maiden breakthrough of the season. The high-profile clash will be taking place at the iconic Eden Gardens venue of the City of Joy on Thursday.
These two familiar foes were up against each other when the inaugural edition of the Indian top-flight T20 league commenced and have a history of battling out each other over the years. The date was 18th April 2008 when the Kiwi star Brendon McCullum played an unforgettable inning of 158 runs in 73 balls to kick off the world’s grandest T20 league. It is going to be very interesting to see how KKR’s newly appointed skipper Nitish Rana handles the pressure of taking on such a high-profile opposition and finding the winning way for the Purple and Gold outfit.
RCB is likely to field an unchanged lineup for this forthcoming fixture to continue forward the momentum with the same team combination. All eyes will be on the spin department of the Royal Challengers as the Eden Gardens pitch has always been helpful for the charismatic spinners. However, the presence of Wanindu Hasaranga will be dearly missed by the RCBians as the Lankan spin wizard is unavailable until Sunday.
Despite his ongoing fitness concerns, we still may see the Kiwi speedster Lockie Ferguson appearing on the field as Tim Southee was too expensive against Punjab. Nitish Rana’s tactic of not using the Jharkhand youngster Anukul Roy also received plenty of criticism when Sunil Narine was spending too many runs at the same time. Another highly expected change in the KKR lineup is Venkatesh Iyer who looked in fine form as an impact player replacing Mandeep Singh for the opening slot.
What have they done so far?
The Karnataka-based outfit thrashed their neighborhood rivals Mumbai Indians to register a massive eight-wicket victory on the opening matchday. Despite outclassing the star-studded MI top-order quite early, the MI Paltan still went on to bring up a first-inning total of 171 owing to the brilliance of the youngster Tilak Varma. However, RCB overpowered their counterparts in the second innings and convincingly chased it down inside 17 overs.
On the other hand, Kolkata lost their opening fixture of the season by 7 runs after rain interruption halted their chase at Mohali after the completion of the 16th over. The impact player Venkatesh Iyer saved the Bengal-based franchise from a top-order collapse and had a crucial 46-run partnership for the fourth wicket with the skipper which brought them back into the game. However, the dismissal of Andre Russell by Sam Curran in the 15th over turned out to be the match-defining moment where KKR missed out on vital 2 points.
Head to Head record
The rivalry between these two IPL heavyweights is considered one of the oldest and yet fiercest in the league. They have shared the same battlefield at the Indian top-flight T20 competition 30 times across 15 seasons and the head-to-head record of those encounters slightly goes in the favor of the Red and Blacks by 16-14. Meanwhile, the Bangaloreans have also breached the KKR fortress on several occasions and currently stand with four wins in 10 games at Eden Gardens.
We have witnessed many iconic RCB vs KKR encounters over the years where the intensity of the game is always high. They contested in a 10-over match at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in 2015 where the home team successfully chased 112 after the late heroics of Mandeep Singh who is now part of the Knight Riders’ roster.
Two years later, the high-profile RCB batting unit consisting of Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Kedar Jadhav surrendered at a total of 49 runs against Kolkata to own a remorseful IPL record for the lowest team score.
They were placed in different groups in the previous edition as the fans got to see them battling out only once throughout the season. It was a low-scoring contest at DY Patil Stadium of Navi Mumbai where the Knight Riders suffered their first defeat of IPL 2022 by 3 wickets. The Royal Challengers needed 10 runs from the final over of Russell when the veteran Dinesh Karthik finished it off in the first two balls itself.
Andre Russell: The Jamaican all-rounder has created such an aura in the 20-over format that you can’t write off a team from any circumstances when he is part of that side. His famous knock of an unbeaten 48 off just 13 balls which single-handedly snatched the match from the paws of the Red and Blacks in 2019 is still fresh in the memories of every KKR fan. Dre Russ did show a glimpse of his capabilities in the opening game against Punjab Kings however, the 34-year-old phenomenon threw his wickets before getting the job done.
Virat Kohli: The Modern Master always steps up for his franchise whenever they are touring the City of Joy to face the two-time IPL champions. Kohli’s most recent IPL century also came at the same venue in 2019 when his 100-run contribution helped RCB to post a humongous winning total of 213 on the board. The former Indian all-format captain was on his top form against the Mumbai Indians and will surely pose the biggest threat to another rival.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Venkatesh Iyer, Nitish Rana ©, Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Shardul Thakur, Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson, Anukul Roy, Umesh Yadav, Varun Chakaravarthy
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli, Faf du Plessis ©, Shahbaz Ahmed, Glenn Maxwell, Michael Bracewell, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Karn Sharma, Harshal Patel, Akash Deep, Reece Topley, Mohammed Siraj
RCB will undoubtedly be turning up as favorites to win this contest, especially after trampling down the five-time champions MI in such a dominant way. Kolkata struggled a lot to compete against Punjab Kings, while one thing is clear their over-dependency on individuals is not sustainable and won’t take their 2023 campaign further to league stages if they continue to do so.