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When the decision of shifting out the IPL to UAE was finalized, a huge buzz was created as fans and pundits all around the world thought it would be a huge boost for the spinners. Cut to 37 games in the tournament and the dominance witnessed in the league has been completely by the pacers.

Be it in terms of statistics or economies, fast bowlers have come on top despite the presumption that spinners would get more help from the UAE pitches. Talking about the ineffectiveness of spin bowling, Kolkata Knight Riders are one team that have barely used spin in their attack. Despite having a spinner who is perhaps one of the best in the business, concerns emerged recently as there was an objection put forth on Sunil Narine’s bowling action.

It all started in the 24th game of the tournament where Kolkata played Punjab. However, after all the trouble it is reported that Narine is cleared and will hopefully get a chance to continue without any problems. Kolkata, with a new captain and a newly set bowling attack, were absolutely destructive in their last game against the Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Special mention to Lockie Ferguson, who had to wait for 8 games before getting a chance to prove himself. Be it economy or wicket-taking abilities, Ferguson ticked all boxes as he gave just 15 runs from his 4 overs, picking 3 wickets that included 13 dots. He also bowled the crucial super over and got rid of David Warner on his very first ball.

They will now be against Royal Challengers Bangalore who finally have a well-balanced time firing from all ends. Both the teams are in the top half of the table and they would want it to remain that way until the end. The 39th game of the tournament will be played on October 21 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi.

Head to Head

Matches: 26, KKR: 15, RCB: 11

Team News

Beating Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kolkata are now four points clear of the other bottom half teams except Rajasthan who played and won their game against CSK yesterday. Kolkata now have a game in hand and a win here will intensify their chances of holding the fourth playoff spot.

However, a couple of bad games could put them in trouble too as the teams below Kolkata can still qualify mathematically. Ferguson’s selection changed the entire dynamics of the team and he will surely keep his position in the XI for the rest of the tournament. Morgan did not have the best of starts as the skipper but he cannot afford to lose any more games as Kolkata have one of the worst net run-rates in the tournament.

Kuldeep Yadav was also one of the unsung performers of the game and his inclusion in this game is much anticipated too. However, it was the skipper’s and Dinesh Karthik’s effort to get the team at a position where they could at least hope to defend the total and they certainly did. Nitish Rana did well too but being the number three batsman for Kolkata, he needs to do a lot more.

Kolkata are most likely to stick to the XI that played the last game. However, Russell will be a concern. Bangalore were in similar circumstances as the game almost got out of their hands until Jaydev Unadkat came to bowl. The pitch was not helping the batsmen much and Virat Kohli’s wicket was proof of it. AB de Villiers stuck to the crease and did his absolute best by keeping the momentum going with quick singles and doubles. He had to wait until the penultimate over of the game to show his true colors as he completely ripped Unadkat apart with his gigantic sixes and barely left anything for Jofra Archer to defend.

Their loss against Punjab was a good lesson for Kohli as he tried to shuffle a well-settled batting order by sending Washington Sundar over AB de Villiers. Bangalore are also expected to keep the same XI that won against Rajasthan and the team has a lot of performers.

Aaron Finch has been a trouble for Kohli but he knows that on his day, Finch can single-handedly take the game away from the opponents. A performance like that should be on the cards as the pile of low scores has mostly been on the rise.

Pitch and Conditions

The Abu Dhabi pitch has been working well for the spinners but Jos Buttler showed it last night that once you’re in the groove then no one should be able to stop you. The team that chases will have to start off well as the middle overs will be extremely tight and the pressure of the required run-rate could lead to making multiple mistakes.

A scored around 160 in the first innings is very good but it will take some batting to go beyond it. The sky will be clear and the temperature will be below 30 degrees. Humidity is expected to rise and go to a maximum of 60%.

Probable Playing XI

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR): Rahul Tripathi, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (WK), Eoin Morgan (C), Andre Russell/Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Lockie Ferguson, Kuldeep Yadav, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy.

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB): Devdutt Padikkal, Aaron Finch, Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers (WK), Gurkeerat Man Singh, Washington Sundar, Chris Morris, Isuru Udana, Shahbaz Ahmed/Shivam Dube, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal.    

Key Battles

Shubman Gill (KKR) vs Chris Morris (RCB)

Shubman Gill (KKR) vs Chris Morris (RCB)  ipl
Shubman Gill (KKR) vs Chris Morris (RCB)

Shubman Gill has been brilliant this season but has failed to convert his starts into the 50s and 100s. His last two innings specifically have been slower than how he naturally plays and that is something Gil would want to stop. He will be against Chris Morris who has fit into the side like the last block of a perfect puzzle.  

Morris can open with the ball, he is very athletic in the field and his hitting is phenomenal down the order. However, here it is about how he plans to get Gill out of his way. Morris has been very accurate and at the same time patient with his line. He has barely provided any room for the batsmen to throw their arms and that is the reason for his economic spells.

Gill will have to choose him shots well. If he takes his time and decides to accelerate by hitting the right balls, this head to head will surely not go in one’s favor completely.

Lockie Ferguson (KKR) vs Virat Kohli (RCB)

Lockie Ferguson (KKR) vs Virat Kohli (RCB)  ipl
Lockie Ferguson (KKR) vs Virat Kohli (RCB)

Ferguson’s introduction has come like the best reinforcement Kolkata could ever ask for. Even though it was his first game, it barely looked like he’s making his IPL 2020 debut in that game. It was also quite evident how strongly Ferguson has worked on himself in the nets considering not playing a single game on the UAE pitches officially.

He will be against Virat Kohli who has silently made it to the race of the orange cap and will surely remain one of the contenders, looking at the way he and his team are performing. The battle between the two will be an amazing one as both players can play with words on the pitch too.

Prediction

The game does not have a clear favorite but it would be unfair if RCB’s commendable run is not mentioned. The team genuinely looks a very balanced one and the alleged weak bowling attack has also reformed itself. Chahal and Sundar handle the middle over brilliantly while Morris takes charge of the powerplay. Udana is comfortable bowling anywhere but the ability of each of them to pick wickets is what makes this RCB side lethal.

However, they will be against a different Kolkata side as Dinesh Karthik will specifically focusing on his batting more. Ferguson will be a surprise package and could pick crucial wickets at any stage of the match. Russell is yet to be confirmed but he would want to step on the pitch and right all his wrongs.

Cricwizz predicts Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to win the game.