The Chinnaswamy Stadium has thus far in the CLT20 produced two games that went to the very last ball. One was a high-scoring thriller and one an extremely low-scoring affair, which makes it a venue to be in but one that cannot be prejudged. What the two protagonists of Thursday night, hosts RCB and fellow IPL travellers KKR, will serve up is thus anyone’s guess.
It is perhaps this mystery that saw some sort of queuing up at the ticket counters on Wednesday, raising hopes of a goodly turnout. Neither team has won yet in the competition, for the Knight Riders it gets worse as they have lost two in two, which makes advancing in the tournament a very tough proposition.
But that in a way may free up the Gautam Gambhir-led side enough to come out with their ‘A’ game. That should only compound the problems for Royal Challengers, who as it is have lost the services of one of their stars AB de Villiers, out of the tournament with a bad finger injury picked up while fielding during practice on Wednesday. But, they do have in Tillakaratne Dilshan, captain of Sri Lanka in all formats of the game, a ready replacement.
It will mean a little tinkering with the batting line-up, with Arun Karthik having to don the role of wicketkeeper-batsman, which means one of opener Mayank Agarwal or Mohammed Kaif will have to make way. Perhaps, with the likes of Chris Gayle, Dilshan himself as also Saurabh Tiwary, who is said to have recovered from a hamstring injury, around, Kaif’s steadying hand may be preferred in the lower middle-order with Virat Kohli playing that role in the top.
Where RCB don’t have such riches is with their bowling. They will have to more so less stick to the combination they started the tournament with. Dilshan can chip in with his fastish off-breaks though and help shore up the bowling which went wrong in the opener against the Warriors where RCB failed to defend 172.
As far as riches go, surely KKR, who have talent aplenty, must be one of the most underperforming sides. They went down to Somerset twice, once in the qualifiers and then again in the main round, now if that isn’t wasting talent nothing is.