The Royal Challengers Bangalore will take on the Kolkata Knight Riders at Bangalore in a game that will, in all probabilities decide which side gets into the semi-finals. Both the sides are locked at ten points each, and have 10 games. With four more matches to play, and a points tally of 14 been the bare minimum that is expected out of the teams – with 16 being more preferable – the side losing this game will know that their chances of making it to the knock-out will depend on three successive wins in the tournament. >
The last time these two sides had met at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata had continued with its giant-killing spree – after having beaten defending champions Deccan Chargers earlier – and taken the Bangalore side out. Things have changed much since then, but more they have changed, more they have looked similar! >
For starters, Kolkata went from those two wins, to a patchy performance in the rest of their eight games, and have won only three matches. Bangalore, on the other hand, lost the first game, but went on to clinch their next four ties with consummate ease; after which they have won only one game!
Bangalore will highly depend on how the pitch behaves, because with the amount of bounce and carry it has, they will depend on their high-profile bowling attack to do the business. However, more surprising was their selection when they left out Kevin Pietersen in the last game against the Deccan Chargers and retained Cameron White. Clearly, that shuffle is needed, and Pietersen needs to bat at the number three position for most part of the game.
As compared to that, one gets the sense that all of a sudden, after Kolkata has seen the regaining of form by Sourav Ganguly, there is an over-dependence on him and Chris Gayle. The Bangalore team will look to target Ganguly and get him out early, and the best way to do that will be to unleash the likes of Dale Steyn and Jacques Kallis early. It remains to be seen how Ganguly manages to overcome the duo and continue with his golden touch in the tournament.
Bangalore may be favourites going into this game (8/11 at Sky Bet), but they will need to strategise and select right. One almost gets the sense that their thinking has gone for a toss in the series so far, and that is where they are losing the games. Kolkata go into the game at 13/10 (Totesport) and if Ganguly fires at the top, it could very well be their game!