This year’s Royal Challengers Bangalore will look slightly different for a lot of people. They still have AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli, but they will be without Chris Gayle, who they decided not to buy in the auction.
Is that a good move or a bad move, only time will tell. But this means there is a lot of pressure on AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli to perform.
Kolkata Knight Riders are also a completely different outfit from last season. They are without Gautam Gambhir, who has led them in the last 7 seasons, winning two of them.
Gambhir’s leadership will be missed, perhaps more so by KKR than RCB will miss Chris Gayle’s batting. Still KKR have a very good replacement in Dinesh Karthik, who made a big name for himself recently in a one day international tournament in Sri Lanka, winning the final for India with a last ball six.
RCB had a wretched season in 2017. That was when their then owner, Vijay Mallya was on the run from the law and they finished last in the league. That was a terrible, terrible year for them.
But they have moved on. Their young players such as Yuzvendra Chahal have gone on to represent India. Chahal is today a certain selection in the Indian team, even replacing the likes of Ashwin and Jadeja. This goes to show how far he has come.
KKR face a challenge in the bowling department. They are without Mitchell Starc, the best fast bowler in the world today. Starc has been ruled out for the entire IPL with a tibial bone stress fracture in his right leg. He will be replaced by Tom Curran, a fast-bowling all-rounder from England.
KKR will depend heavily on their three overseas players, Chris Lynn, Andre Russell and Sunil Narine. There is a cloud over Narine’s bowling action. It would be a tragedy for KKR is Narine is ruled out for this reason. He is after all their star performer and has been so for many years.
One expects a lot from Dinesh Karthik, a selfless, hardworking cricketer, who has finally been thrust into the limelight. Karthik has been given a big responsibility and one hopes that he makes the most out of it. We expect a thrilling game between the two teams at Eden Gardens tonight.
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Chris Lynn, 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Robin Uthappa, 4 Dinesh Karthik (capt, wk), 5 Nitish Rana, 6 Andre Russell, 7 Piyush Chawla, 8 Sunil Narine, 9 Tom Curran, 10 Kuldeep Yadav, 11 Shivam Mavi/Kamlesh Nagarkoti
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Brendon McCullum/Quinton de Kock, 2 Parthiv Patel (wk), 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Sarfaraz Khan, 6 Colin de Grandhomme, 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Tim Southee, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Navdeep Saini
Watch Kolkata Knight Riders take on Royal Challengers Bangalore at 8 pm tonight on Star Sports