Four defeats in five matches have hit Royal Challengers Bangalore’s semifinal hopes and they would be desperate to bring their campaign back on track when they take on Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League in Bangalore on Saturday.
Sitting pretty at one stage with four wins and eight points in five matches, RCB now have 10 points from as many games, showcasing how the team’s fortunes took a turn.
They would have to win at least three matches to ensure that they are in the reckoning for the title, which eluded them in South Africa last season.
An invigorated Kolkata, with or without Sourav Ganguly, will not be an easy opponent to conquer in Saturday’s contest at the M Chinnaswamy stadium.
Ganguly is on the injury list. The former India captain had injured his right ankle during Wednesday’s win over Delhi at the Eden Gardens. Though he has had an MRI done, the results are awaited. He may not play on Saturday.
Kolkata have gathered confidence from their win against the formidable Delhi Daredevils.
If the visitors from the East produce as powerful a sucker punch as Deccan Chargers delivered on Thursday night, the doors could possibly be shut on RCB’s challenge in the third edition of the cash-awash league.
Though their batsmen failed to generate runs in the first half of the innings against Deccan, Anil Kumble is not much hassled about RCB’s batting. It is the insipid performance of the bowlers that worries Kumble.
If Praveen Kumar and Dale Steyn were expected to find inroads into the rival batting, they have failed to deliver.
Worse, they have conceded far too many runs in crucial situations, either bowling far too up or giving width for stroke play.
RCB could possibly bring in Abhimanyu Mithun for Steyn and play an extra batsman in Kevin Pietersen, who was rested in the last game.
Kolkata, who have garnered 10 points from 10 games, have been empowered by Brendon McCullum’s return. The Kiwi, on his day, could be as destructive as Chris Gayle, Andrew Symonds, David Warner and Cameron White.
That he produced IPl’s highest score (154) at this venue two seasons ago, should have the adrenalin flowing in McCullum’s veins. The likes of Ashok Dinda and Manoj Tiwary have held Kolkata in good stead, chipping in with wickets and runs when it has mattered most.
With Kolkata string form in the past few matches, it will be interesting to see how RCB fare in their 11th contest this season.