Preview: Bangalore vs Kolkata, Match 58

May 14, 2011

As the end of the league phase approaches, there are many matches that are between teams who are playing only for pride with either no chance of qualification or only a mathematical one. This one, is far from such.

With the gap between the top four sides and the others continuously widening, both Kolkata and Bangalore look well on their way to qualifying. However, they will now be locked in a fierce battle to finish the league as among the top 2 teams.

Royal Challengers Bangalore:

With six wins on the trot, they are currently the hottest team in the league. And strangely enough, they have the Kolkata Knight Riders to thank for their incredible run. KKR decided not to retain Gayle, and his arrival has completely revitalized the Bangalore side. However, they will have to cope with fresh challenges from now onwards. Tillakaratne Dilshan – who played a couple of good hands in the last two matches – is no longer there and neither is captain Daniel Vettori, who has flown to New Zealand to consult a surgeon on his troublesome knee. Charl Langeveldt is likely to keep his place in the side in Vettori’s absence while the replacement for Dilshan will be amongst Rilee Rossouw, Jonathan Vandiar and Luke Pomersbach. Bangalore have also been well served by the sudden spurt in form of S Aravind, who has taken 9 wickets in their past 3 matches.

Kolkata Knight Riders:

The Knight Riders are unlikely to forget what Gayle did to them the last time these two sides met, and their main priority is likely to centre on bowling plans to stop the big West Indian. Kolkata have the fire-power of Brett Lee to do that, but Lee hasn’t picked up as many wickets as they would have liked, and against a side that bats deep, wickets are the order of the day.

Their batting though, looks sound with Gautam Gambhir leading the way and Manoj Tiwary not too far behind. Yusuf Pathan lurks as an always dangerous finisher, and in him they have someone who can match Gayle’s big-hitting. The overseas contingent continues to be comprised of Brett Lee, Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Eoin Morgan, with Morgan’s place under the most scrutiny after a largely lacklustre showing thus far.

Weather update:

Heavy rains have lashed Bangalore for each of the past three days and thunderstorms are forecast today too. With the Bangalore weather being more unpredictable than a woman’s mood swings, the match could still take place uninterrupted, but there is a real possibility of a rain-affected match.

In Focus:

An average of 99.50, a strike-rate of 195.09. The only man to hit two centuries in the IPL. The man who has missed 4 of the matches played by his side, but still sits at Number 2 on the highest run-scorers list, just 26 runs behind leader Sehwag. Throw in 6 wickets at an economy rate of 6.3, and athletic fielding ability. It’s hard to imagine a more complete Twenty20 package than the one Chris Gayle is delivering for Bangalore right now.

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