April 11th, 2013

M. Chinnaswamy stadium, Bangalore

Form Guide:

RCB- Win, Loss,Win,

KKR- Win, Loss,

It’s Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers against Gautam Gambhir’s Knight Riders. Indian fans will remember these two Delhi boys as saviours of India’s famous World Cup Final chase in 2011, when they resurrected the innings with superb resourcefulness after the early wickets of Tendulkar and Sehwag. Back then, Kohli was a greenhorn, finding his way about in International cricket.

Born again in Bengaluru

Today, he is the best limited-overs batsman in India. Gambhir, meanwhile, is looking to build on his fledging form- after being dropped from the test squad after 3 years. He always looks good in this form of cricket, and he has so far looked the most comfortable out of the sputtering KKR batting line-up.

Royal Challengers Bangalore (Finalists 2009, 2011)

Two wins and one super-over loss. They have been the most convincing team so far. Virat Kohli showed the world that RCB is not a one-man batting line-up, against the dangerous Sunrisers. After losing in a super-over to them just two days prior, Kohli decided to take it upon himself to demonstrate that he has mastered the art of T20 cricket too. His scintillating 93 of 47 balls even surpassed Gayle’s first-match 91, as Kohli got out every shot in the book to make it a day for young Indian batsmen- with Rohit and Karthik decimating Delhi just hours later. The Challengers now face the defending champions, who have come off a painful loss to the Royals. With AB De Villiers back in the side and Agarwal looking good (better than Dilshan, for sure) at the top with an inconsistent Gayle, their top 4 are as good as the top 8 of any other side. De Villiers is a perfect buffer for Gayle failing, and on the field, he is worth a good 10 runs every innings. He is the best fielder in the world, and with Arun Karthik donning the gloves, he will be relieved to go back to what he does best. The balance has returned to the top-heavy RCB side, much to owner Mallya’s relief.

Binga Binga roses

X-factor: AB De Villiers. If Gayle and Kohli can hit quickfire 90s, AB can smash more than 100 with an astounding array of strokeplay. Not many will forget his carnage last year, when he destroyed Dale Steyn in a spell that went down as probably the best league innings ever played in a chase. Also, he is the best batsman in world cricket- with all 3 formats combined.

Kolkata Knight Riders (Champions 2012)

The defending champions have a problem. Their top order looks brittle, thanks to Bisla’s suicidal tendencies and Kallis’s non-starts. Gambhir needs to build on his 40s and play the way Morgan did- when he almost pulled off an improbable chase against the Royals. Youngsters like Tiwary and Pathan need to come good when the top order collapses, otherwise their championship victory will seem like a distant memory. Brett Lee is doing a fine job opening the bowling, and Narine is doing what he does best in the middle- except for that 18 run over that proved crucial in the long run.

‘Did you hear that rumour about SRK? Me neither…’

KKR will not want to have two losses on the board, and they will have to find a way around the marauding RCB batsmen before they can worry about their own. SRK could be a worried man.

X-Factor: Rajat Bhatia His slow medium pace can be deceptive for many hard-hitters, and he must be careful with Chris Gayle at the other end. Nevertheless, he always does a good job of wiping out a tail, but is yet to prove himself with the bat, despite the useful cameo he played against the Royals.

Prediction: By the law of averages, Gayle will come good today. And if he does, nothing can save KKR. Another RCB win here, and it’ll put them on top of the table with 3 wins out of 4.

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