Kolkata, April 18: Rejuvenated by World Cup selection, Dinesh Karthik would be eager to impress India captain Virat Kohli and also arrest the Kolkata Knight Riders’ three game losing streak, when they lock horns with Royal Challengers Bangalore tonight.
With seven defeats in eight games, RCB needs to win every match from here on to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the playoffs and the struggling KKR could provide them with an opportunity to find that winning momentum.
Dinesh Karthik-led Kolkata are in a bit of a rut at the moment, having slipped from second to sixth position in the points table thanks to a hat-trick of defeats.
In fact, to make matters worse, Kolkata’s dangerman Andre Russell has suffered an injury scare after being hit on his left shoulder by a bouncer during their practice.
Russell was already suffering from niggles ahead of their last match against Chennai Super Kings and had failed to fire for the first time, exposing KKR’s over-reliance on the West Indies big hitter.
Russell had left the Royal Challengers in shambles in their first leg exchange, smashing seven sixes en route to his 13-ball 48 not out as KKR had chased down a mammoth target of 206.
It remains to be seen if the Jamaican recovers in time. His absence would be a big void for KKR, who are looking to return to winning ways and reignite their campaign.
Tough road for KKR
To make the playoffs, KKR need to win at least four of their remaining six matches, of which three are at home. However, even KKR will fancy their chances and seek to get back on track against a lowly RCB facing a do-or-die situation.
RCB’s star duo of Kohli and AB de Villiers have been in sublime form but the team has not clicked as a whole with their pace bowling being a major letdown.
While youngster Navdeep Saini has been impressive, senior pro Umesh Yadav has turned out to be a big flop, bagging just two wickets at an expensive economy of 9.26.
With South African veteran pacer Dale Steyn ready to take charge as an injury replacement for Nathan Coulter-Nile midway into the IPL, the pace department will hope to get their sting back.
Kohli and de Villiers will look to fire in unison against a team whose bowling has failed to click collectively. The KKR pace department has looked mediocre, while their famed spinners have struggled to get wickets on the batting-friendly Eden conditions in Kolkata.
Meanwhile, all eyes will also be on KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik who has grabbed a surprise World Cup berth ahead of young wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant. Karthik has only one half-century and an average of 18.50 so far this season. (Agencies)