The 10th edition of the IPL 2017 is getting towards its business end and wins and defeats are beginning to have a massive bearing on the playoff prospects for each team. The teams who began the season well, like Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils, have not been able to add to their wins earlier in the season, while a team like Rising Pune Supergiant, with back-to-back wins, have gotten themselves into fourth place and just two points off the second-placed team. And, in an eight-team league like the IPL, when the second-placed team [Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)] take on the seventh-placed team [Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)], which will be the case in match 27, the points table is expected to have a major shake-up.
Knight Riders have had a good season so far and are a complete side, though the mood in the camp can change quickly if Gautam Gambhir‘s men suffer their second consecutive defeat, at home too, to Royal Challengers tonight. On Friday night, a terrific knock under pressure from the skipper of Gujarat Lions, Suresh Raina, handed Kolkata their first defeat at the Eden Gardens. Despite making a good start to the match, after being sent into bat, KKR’s innings fell away and the 187/5 proved insufficient for their bowlers.
Royal Challengers come into tonight’s encounter on the back of a crucial win against Gujarat Lions. But they, like RPS, need to win tonight, to not only move up on the table but also get their season back on track before they start playing the return fixtures. The major positives for RCB ahead of tonight’s match are Chris Gayle getting a score under his belt and the top order coming good collectively.
Form Guide: KKR vs RCB
KKR vs RCB Head-to-head
The overall head-to-head record—including the one Champions League encounter—between these two teams stands at KKR 10-9 RCB, with tonight’s visitors winning on three of their seven previous visits to the Eden Gardens.
In IPL, KKR and RCB have won nine matches apiece.
Match 27: KKR vs RCB Playing XI
Despite losing to GL, Knight Riders, unlike Royal Challengers, are a settled side and therefore, unlikely to make more than one possible change. The bowling attack had an off night and the team’s best batsman of this season (Manish Pandey) struggled for timing. These two elements contributed to KKR losing by four wickets. Tonight’s hosts will want to step their game up.
The one possible change to KKR’s playing XI is Chris Woakes, who has been docile with the ball and expensive in almost every one of his outings, making way for Trent Boult or Colin de Grandhomme. Against a strong RCB batting line-up, Boult, who sat out the defeat to Gujarat, might get the nod and replace the English seamer.
KKR’s probable playing XI vs RCB: 1. Gautam Gambhir (c), 2. Sunil Narine, 3. Robin Uthappa (wk), 4. Manish Pandey, 5. Yusuf Pathan, 6. Shakib Al Hasan, 7. Suryakumar Yadav, 8. Nathan Coulter-Nile, 9. Kuldeep Yadav, 10. Umesh Yadav, and 11. Trent Boult
Actual playing XI for KKR: 1. Gautam Gambhir (c), 2. Sunil Narine, 3. Robin Uthappa (wk), 4. Manish Pandey, 5. Yusuf Pathan, 6. Colin de Grandhomme, 7. Suryakumar Yadav, 8. Nathan Coulter-Nile, 9. Kuldeep Yadav, 10. Umesh Yadav, and 11. Chris Woakes
For Royal Challengers, AB de Villiers missed his team’s last match due to a recurring back problem. But having trained with the squad ahead of this match, de Villiers is expected to return to action tonight. If the celebrated South African batsman is fit and returns to the playing XI, one among Travis Head and Shane Watson will make way.
Though persisting with Head might affect the balance of the side, it’s not entirely out of the question. Head scored an unbeaten 30 off 16 balls against Gujarat and is in good touch. And Royal Challengers, if they have to chase a stiff target, need big-hitters in their line-up, meaning Head is essential.
Watson, who has failed to contribute with bat or ball, is likely to make way for a quick. Tymal Mills and Samuel Badree, along with de Villiers, missed RCB’s last match against Gujarat. But these two players have regained fitness as well and are available for selection.
Adam Milne was one of the expensive bowlers for Royal Challengers against Lions, and though his conceding runs might not be the sole determinant, the fit-again Mills will coerce the team management to pick him ahead of the Kiwi.
Therefore, here’s what I believe will be RCB’s playing XI vs KKR: 1. Virat Kohli (c), 2. Chris Gayle, 3. AB de Villiers, 4. Travis Head/Billy Stanlake, 5. Kedar Jadhav, 6. Mandeep Singh, 7. Pawan Negi, 8. Stuart Binny, 9. Sreenath Aravind, 10. Tymal Mills, and 11. Yuzvendra Chahal
Actual playing XI for RCB: 1. Virat Kohli (c), 2. Chris Gayle, 3. AB de Villiers, 4.Samuel Badree, 5. Kedar Jadhav, 6. Mandeep Singh, 7. Pawan Negi, 8. Stuart Binny, 9. Sreenath Aravind, 10. Tymal Mills, and 11. Yuzvendra Chahal