Before I begin writing the preview, I pray to the rain-gods to be kind enough to allow a full match tonight at the Eden Gardens. The weather at Kolkata has improved quite a bit in the last few hours with the sun shining brightly today. But nothing can be predicted and the skies may open up any time with spells of Northwestern wind breezing through the hearts of the city. However, assuming that everything stays fine and we get a full match, here is a brief preview of the encounter.
It’s a tricky journey for the Royal Challengers Bangalore and a home-coming of different sorts for Chris Gayle. Once a crowd favorite at the Eden, Gayle is now in the opposition’s ranks but he may get a few applauses from the ever-so-passionate Bengali crowd when he walks into the crease. Both these teams are expected to make it to the play-offs and this is why it is going to be a crucial match for both teams. The slow and low Eden strip will ensure a nail-biting finish.
The teams are more or less evenly matched with RCB being the better team on five occasions when compared to KKR’s four.
Played – 9 ; RCB – 5 ; KKR – 4
Players to look out for
Gautam Gambhir : The skipper has been leading from the front giving a solid start to the Knights’ innings. He has been the most consistent batsmen in the Knight Riders team and no wonder he is the leading run-scorer for them. He needs to carry on his superb form in order to see his team through the second half of the tournament.
Sunil Narine : A lethal weapon in the Knights’ armory, Narine has proved that even James Bond will have to toil hard to solve his mystery! With 10 wickets from 5 matches including a five-wicket haul, Narine is the best bet for KKR at Eden.
Brett Lee : A wicket-taking option any time, Lee has produced the goods for Gambhir’s men. The Knights will depend upon him heavily to uproot Gayle’s stumps early in his spell. Some athletic fielding along the boundary rope and the ability to hit it big with the bat makes him an asset!
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Chris Gayle : All eyes will be on him as RCB takes the field. As for Shah Rukh’s boys, they can only hope that a Gayle-storm wont replace a thunderstorm! Brett Lee and Sunil Narine will the men against the mighty Caribbean.
AB de Villiers : Living in the shadows of Chris Gayle has been a blessing in disguise for this South African as he continued to plunder the opposition when others like Gayle and Virat Kohli failed. Often underrated by other teams, de Villiers has it in him to do it big when his team needs to.
KP Apanna : While Zaheer Khan and Vinay Kumar has stemmed the flow of runs, Apanna has produced some fine aggressive bowling to show his worth. Bowling is a spot of worry for RCB and Vijay Mallya’s team will be much relieved if Apanna can contribute and compliment their batting.
It’s too hard to predict. The match looks so evenly poised that it may turn out to be anybody’s game. However, I’ll predict in favor of RCB because of the Gayle-factor.