The two hottest sides in the tournament in terms of form, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders will face off at the mighty Sharjah on Monday. With both sides having registered four wins from their six games, Monday’s encounter promises to be an absolute cracker of a game.
Royal Challengers Bangalore - W L W W L
What’s stood out about RCB this season is that despite quite not being at their best, they’ve found ways to win matches. Versus Mumbai, for instance, they won the game despite underperforming at the death while versus CSK, yesterday, they showed great character with the bat to outsmart and outmuscle their opponents. This is a side of RCB that has not been witnessed over the last three or so seasons so the winning mentality will bode them will as the season progresses. A win on Monday would make them hot favourites to clinch a playoff spot so skipper Kohli would be hoping for yet another collective effort from his men.
Kolkata Knight Riders - W W L W W
Simon Doull, on Cricbuzz LIVE, described KKR as the Harry Houdini of IPL and he’s not wrong; despite looking down and out in each of their last two games, Dinesh Karthik’s KKR side stole the games right under the nose of their opponents and this ability to make miracles has been a facet of the side’s IPL 2020 campaign. After making a mess out of their combination in the first game of the season, KKR fine-tuned their combo prior to the SRH encounter and they have since won four of the five games they’ve played. Like RCB, KKR, despite not being at their best, have found ways to win games and will be hoping to pull off yet another heist, if not a clinical performance, come Monday in Sharjah.
Royal Challengers Bangalore - Virat Kohli
You can only keep world-class players quiet for so long and thus after a difficult start to the season, Virat Kohli, the all-time run-getter in the IPL, rediscovered his 2016-self in the knock versus CSK. In his 52-ball stay in the middle, Kohli constructed the perfect T20 innings imaginable and brought out the flicks and tricks to slaughter CSK. Despite having endured a rough start to the season, Kohli sits atop the RCB batting charts and will hold the key for the side come Monday versus KKR. One thing’s certain, though. He won’t run half as much as he did in Dubai the other day.
Kolkata Knight Riders - Dinesh Karthik
Like Kohli, Dinesh Karthik, too, endured a tough start to the season but the KKR skipper, on Saturday, turned things around in the most stylish fashion imaginable. Coming on the back of scores of 0, 1, 6 and 12, DK scored an almost-perfect 58 versus Kings XI, unleashing his scoops and drives to toy with the defeated Punjab bowlers. After a flurry of experiments towards the front end of the season, the KXIP game indicated that the No.5 position might just be where DK belongs and thus should he get his eye in, in a ground like Sharjah, expect the flamboyant right-hander to score twice as quick as he did on Saturday.
Royal Challengers Bangalore - Chris Morris
For no fault of his, Chris Morris copped a lot of flak prior to the season for being purchased for Rs 10 crore in the auction, but the veteran justified his price tag with his performance against the Super Kings on Saturday. Defending 170, Morris put out an all-round performance with the ball to finish with figures of 3/19 and bowl his side to a convincing win. Death bowling in Sharjah will be key, but so will ruffling up batsmen with a good few spicy short ones, and so the Proteas seamer, come Monday, might look to replicate what Nortje and Archer did in the last game at Sharjah.
Kolkata Knight Riders - Sunil Narine
With the Kolkata seamers misfiring in each of the last two games, the side needed one of their spinners to step up and put his hand up did Sunil Narine. Predominantly bowling in the middle and death overs, Narine helped KKR pull off a heist in each of their last two games and in their previous encounter versus KXIP, the West Indian showcased shades of his 2012 self, strangling batsmen with his unreadable carrom balls. Sharjah or not, in the current form he is in, Narine will be the undisputed ‘key bowler’ for Kolkata come Monday.
Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah
When to Watch: Oct 12, 7:30 PM IST
Where to Watch: Star Sports Network and Hotstar (in India)