High on star power but low on performance, tournament laggards Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore square off in a battle of survival in the IPL here on Wednesday.
There is an intriguing similarity between the sides, both of whom dumped former India skippers and handed over captaincy reigns to foreign imports before the second edition of the tournament.
However, neither Brendon McCullum nor Kevin Pietersen could work wonder and both the Knight Riders and Royal Challengers have just one win against their name from five outings.
The Pietersen-led Bangalore, which was second from bottom the last time around, could end up repeating that performance considering the way things have gone for it so far.
The outfit owned by liquor baron Vijay Mallya was off to a flier, beating defending champions Rajasthan Royals in the opening match but its fortunes have nosedived ever since.
The side’s USD 1.55 million buy Pietersen has shown only glimpses of the form that Bangalore so desperately needs, failing to produce a single match-winning knock so far.
With the experienced and in-form Rahul Dravid on paternity leave, Bangalore’s batting line-up has been further weakened.
Adding to the team’s woes is the poor form of Jesse Ryder and all-rounder Jacques Kallis, both of whom have not been regulars in the side.
In all, the batting of the team has been a huge let down but the problems do not end at that. The bowling has not been much of a success either with veteran leg-spinner Anil Kumble being the only exception.
The likes of Praveen Kumar and Pankaj Singh have failed to provide the breakthroughs and Pietersen’s leadership itself has not been any impressive.
Kolkata, on the other hand, was in turmoil even before it landed here.
The much-debated multiple-captaincy theory of coach John Buchanan, the subsequent sacking of Sourav Ganguly as captain and the immensely popular mystery blogger who has been ripping apart the team while claiming to be one of its members, have all added up to make it a turbulent African safari for superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s team.
The team’s new captain McCullum has not been able to inspire the side as expected and the management’s decision to send non-performing players like Akash Chopra and Sanjay Bangar back to India in the middle of the tournament has left the Knight Riders a divided house.
The off-field drama has expectedly taken a toll on the team’s on-field show and it would quite a task for it to set aside the distractions and come good, even if it is against an equally struggling Bangalore.