RCB desperate for victory

RCB desperate for victory

Knight Riders challenge looms large for Kumbles warriors

RCB desperate for victory

Knight Riders skipper Sourav Ganguly and his successor as Indian captain, Rahul Dravid, will lock horns on Saturday. dh photos/ Srikanta Sharma R

After 10 matches, the Challengers’ campaign can be divided into two halves. They had one loss in the first five games; now, they have just one win after another set of five matches. Talk of reversal of fortunes.

Defeat to Deccan Chargers on Thursday night here is sure to have hurt them badly and there is no better motivation for the Challengers to regroup and regain that winning touch when they take on the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Chinnaswamy stadium on Saturday.

A number of reasons have been proferred for the decline of the Bangalore side. Perhaps they peaked early or they have lost steam. Or it could be a problem of plenty… Whatever the reason, the Challengers certainly seem to have lost that impregnable cloak which they so proudly wore not so long ago, especially at home which had become their fortress with a sea of in-your-face fans behind them. But then, that’s the home truth and it’s never pleasant.

That the Challengers failed to defend a total of 184 despite the Chargers’ rather sedate start should be a cause for concern. Aside from the fact that their batting has been a bit off-colour on a few occasions of late, the Challengers’ problems stem from their bowlers’ inability to get crucial breakthroughs. Of course, there is little one can do if he runs into a brick wall called Andrew Symonds, but with wickets aplenty in hand, the Chargers never appeared flustered despite needing 12 an over whereas the Challengers pressed the panic button once the rival batsmen cut loose.

Dale Steyn’s job is clear-cut, to harry batsmen with his pace. In the process, if he gets wickets, well and good but without the pace of Steyn, the only way the likes of Praveen Kumar and R Vinay Kumar have is to get wickets to escape punishment from the batsmen.

Vinay and Praveen, to an extent, did that job wonderfully well in the beginning but they have gone cold in the last few matches.

Challengers’ batting in the beginning of the innings remains a worry.
Jacques Kallis made some amends for his go-slow approach on Thursday night, but Rahul Dravid, promoted up the order, struggled to provide the pace which would have left the team think-tank scratching its head, though the right-hander is too good a player to be judged by an innings or two.

They may not evoke the same awe as some of the IPL sides do, but Knight Riders can be dangerous. Not for nothing do they have 10 points, same as that of the Challengers. Man to man, Bangalore will easily outweigh Kolkata but, as they say, you can’t judge a book by its cover, especially given the outcome when the two sides met last time.    
With still four matches to go, Challengers are far from finished but they would not like to leave things till the last minute. One more loss and they slip to the bottom half, rising from where will be doubly challenging.

Teams (from):
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Anil Kumble (capt), Jacques Kallis, Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa, Rahul Dravid, Ross Taylor, Virat Kohli, Kevin Pietersen, Cameron White, R Vinay Kumar, Praveen Kumar, Dale Steyn, Mark Boucher, B Akhil, KP Appanna, A Mithun.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Sourav Ganguly (capt), Chris Gayle, Manoj Tiwary, Brendon McCullum, Angelo Mathews, David Hussey, Wriddhiman Saha, Ajit Agarkar, Murali Kartik, Shane Bond, Ajantha Mendis, Ishant Sharma, Iqbal Abdulla, Brad Hodge, Owais Shah, Laxmi Ratan Shukla.