5th April 2019. M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore. The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) had set the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) a steep 206 to chase in their quota of 20 overs. When a fiery Navdeep Saini sent captain Dinesh Karthik packing with the last ball of his spell, KKR were left with a daunting 53 to win off the last 18 balls. Enter Andre Russell.
In reaction to his captain’s departure, the West Indian all-rounder unleashed himself on a hapless RCB bowling attack, raising further questions about their death-bowling problems. Tim Southee, in particular, would bear the brunt of it all as he was smoked for 29 runs in the penultimate over of the innings.
An unbeaten 13-ball 48 from Russell took KKR home to what looked like an extremely improbable win only a couple of overs earlier. That, with nearly an over to spare. Safe to say that kids visiting Cubbon Park, adjacent to RCB’s home stadium, the next morning would have gone home with a few timely souvenirs off the bat of Andre Russell.
Although RCB would recover from a horror start to the season and beat KKR in Kolkata, the effects of that defeat would not be lost on anyone involved with the team in any capacity. Today, the two teams face off at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, which is a dimensionally challenged stadium just like the Chinnaswamy. And if the first few IPL 2020 matches at Sharjah are anything to go by, we could be in for a run-fest.
KKR are up against a slightly different RCB this time, however. Their clash in Bengaluru last season was RCB’s fifth defeat on the trot in a spell of six straight defeats to start the tournament. This time around, they’ve won four of their first six games, including victories against both of last year’s finalists.
Likewise, the Kolkata franchise have won four of their first six fixtures too. Given the teams’ exploits in IPL 2020 so far, we could be in for a cracker of an RCB v KKR fixture later today.
IPL 2020: RCB v KKR Match Prediction
A lot can be said about RCB captain Virat Kohli's batting abilities, and it still would not be enough. This season, however, Kohli did not seem to have gotten off to the greatest of starts. Struggling to even find the boundary in his first three games, the Indian skipper scored a grand total of 18 runs in those outings.
What came next is a testament to the cricketer’s character. An unbeaten 72 took RCB home comfortably in a chase off 155 against the Rajasthan Royals. Kohli would then fight a lone battle against the Delhi Capitals as his 43 went in vain.
The best was yet to come. After batting himself back into form in those two games, Kohli announced his return to form with a dominant unbeaten 90 against the Chennai Super Kings that saw his team win the game by 37 runs.
No announcement this IPL, however, has been louder than that of Devdutt Padikkal. With 4 30+ scores, three of them being fifties, in 6 innings, the 20-year-old southpaw seems to have solved a large chunk of RCB’s problems at the top of the order.
The biggest hole in the Bangalore franchise’s armour over the years, however, has been their death-bowling - hole that they seem to have been covered, at least for now, by a Chris Morris-sized plug.
RCB have a lot going their way at the moment. They have backed their traditional strength on paper with some powerful performances on the field as well. Unfortunately for them though, they won’t be the only in-form team in Sharjah later tonight.
The Knight Riders come into this game on the back of a nail-biting 2-run win over the Kings XI Punjab, their fourth in six games as well. Although the KKR batting has impressed sporadically throughout the season so far, it is Shubman Gill that has run away with the plaudits, and is their only player in the top 10 for the Orange Cap.
That said, there have been encouraging signs from the likes of Eoin Morgan, Rahul Tripathi and skipper Dinesh Karthik in the batting department. On the bowling front, the burden has been shared equally by Varun Chakravarthy, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti.
Although they have not yet had a standout performer, the players have always put their hands up and performed when their team has needed it the most.
However, given that Narine has been reported for a suspect action following his final over heroics against the Kings XI Punjab and that Russell suffered an injury scare in the same game, one would feel that the scales are probably tipped in RCB’s favour. Ever so slightly.
Prediction: RCB to win today’s match.
Published 12 Oct 2020, 10:00 IST