IPL 2021 Play-offs | RCB vs KKR: SWOT Analysis

Kohli's men take on resurgent Kolkata in Eliminator | IPL 2021 Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Kolkata Knight Riders: SWOT Analysis

The winner of the Eliminator plays Delhi Capitals in the second Qualifier

File Photo of Virat Kohli and Eoin Morgan. Credit: IPL20/BCCI


Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) would be hoping to keep their IPL season alive when the two teams face-off in the first Eliminator of IPL 2021. The loser of the match returns home, while the winner stays back and awaits to play Qualifier-II against the losing team of Qualifier-I, the Delhi Capitals. RCB finished third in the league with 9 wins and five losses. KKR are fourth with 7 wins and five losses. 


Strengths: RCB’s batting line-up packs a punch. The openers Virat Kohli and Devdutt Padikkal have paired well for the side. Padikkal has hit one fifty and one hundred this season. Kohli has had a humble season, by his high standards, but has still churned out three fifities. Glenn Maxwell is the team’s top run-getter this seasons with 498 runs. Maxwell's presence has strengthened the middle order by a big margin. The Australian has been so good that he has hogged lime limelight the legendary from AB de Villiers. The South African is still reliable and has hit two fifties. Wicketkeeper-batsman, KS Bharat has also hit the top form as evidenced in his match-winning knock of 78* against Capitals.

Weaknesses: Overdependence on Harshal Patel to get breakthroughs could prove to be RCB’s undoing. Patel is in the form of his life, picking 30 wickets. But Patel’s stunning run has made sure the other bowlers are left with little less work to do. Yuzvendra Chahal is the team’s second-highest wicket-taker with 16 wickets. The third highest wicket-taker is Mohammed Siraj with only 9 scalps. If one combines Chahal and Siraj’s wickets this season, the result is still five short of Patel’s wickets. So, if KKR batters are able to neutralize Patel, then other bowlers will be under pressure to deliver wickets. 

Opportunities: The 2021 season has been the best season for RCB in the last five years. The team finished last after the league stage games in 2017 and 2019. In between RCB managed a sixth-place finish. Last season the team was fourth on the points table. So, finishing third is the best return that the team has enjoyed. The team’s success has certainly wondered the fans: ‘'Ee Sala Cup Namde?’. The team certainly has all the arms and ammunitions to make the IPL cup theirs this time. With Virat Kohli bowing out as the skipper, there isn’t a better opportunity for the side to end its IPL title drought. 

Threats: The threat lurking around is rather on a personal level. This match could be Virat Kohli’s last match as the skipper of the team. If the team bows out, then Kohli will end his captaincy stint at RCB without the coveted trophy. Kohli has been synonyms of the RCB since the first season. He has matured as a world-class batter plying his trade for the team. Kohli’s commitment to RCB has been outstanding considering that he is the league’s all-time leading run-scorer with 6,244 runs, and all those runs have come in RCB shirts. But Kohli has not delivered as a captain. The team is yet to win an IPL trophy and if Kohli fails, his captaincy record will surely be judged with his inability to win the most coveted trophy in league cricket. 

Read: Clash of captains: Kohli's RCB faces Morgan's KKR in IPL eliminator


Strengths: KKR’s bowling unit is a well-rounded one. ‘Mystery’ spinner Varun Chakaravarthy leads the bowling attack. He is the team’s leading wicket-taker this season with 16 scalps to his name. He is very well complemented by Sunil Narine, who tends to stop the flow of runs from his end. Narine has picked only 10 wickets but has an impressive economy of just 6.52. Both Andre Russell and Shakib Al Hasan have done a fair job when asked to bowl.  In the pace attack, Lockie Ferguson has ensured that KKR did not miss Pat Cummins in the UAE leg of the tournament. Ferguson is quick and has picked 10 wickets at an average of 11.20. The Indian pace pair of Prasidh Krishna and Shivam Mavi have been neat too. Krishna has picked 12 wickets and Mavi has 9 wickets to his name.

Weaknesses: the inability of Eoin Morgan and Dinesh Karthik to score runs this season is KKR’s biggest weakness. The KKR captain has notched only 124 runs from 13 innings averaging 12.40. Karthik isn’t faring any better as he has only 204 runs from 12 outings at an average of just 29.14. The duo’s failure puts immense pressure on the top-order to consistently churn out one excellent show after the other. If RCB bowlers get rid of top-order early, then they have a realistic chance to restrict KKR to a low total. 

Opportunities: Eoin Morgan has impressed as a captain but failed as a batter. Such has been the sharp criticism on his batting, that there were voices that Morgan should sidestep to let an in-form batter take his spot. But Morgan can shut his critics up if he manages to lead KKR till the final. His batting abilities are well known. So, if there was ever a chance for Morgan to prove himself in the IPL, now is the turn.  

Threats: KKR will be reeling under the pressure of expectations. The team has bounced back strongly after suffering a poor start earlier in the year. Back in India, where the first leg was held, KKR had managed to win just two of its seven league games. A play-off spot was looking like a distant dream for the two-time champions.  But in the UAE, the team turned things around. The side has won five of the next seven matches to qualify for the playoffs. Their successful run has increased the expectations of the fans and the experts. The question remains, will KKR wilt under pressure?


Matches played: 28

RCB wins: 13

KKR wins: 15

What transpired between the two teams in their league phase face-offs this season?

When the two teams squared off against each other for the first time this season, RCB blanked KKR by 38 runs at MA Chidambaram Stadium. KKR were looking out of form at that time and the Virat Kohli-led side was flying high. 

But once the season resumed in the UAE, Eoin Morgan’s team was a refreshed unit. At Sheik Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, KKR avenged their early-season loss as they defeated RCB by 9 wickets. 

Heading into the eliminator, it is one game apiece this season for the two sides. 

Form Guide:


Pitch and conditions

Until now, eight matches have been played at Sharjah this season. In those eight games, five have been won chasing the target and three times the score has been successfully defended. So, there isn’t much difference in the outcomes, batting first or batting second. The average first innings total from the eight games played at this venue this season is just 137. Clearly, the pitches of Sharjah are not behaving the way they had last year. So expect a low-scoring fixture. 

The evening is predicted to be clear and warm. The temperature would be around 29° C and humidity level will be 31%. 

Team News

KKR will be fretting over the fitness of star all-rounder Andre Russell. The West Indian has missed the last four matches for KKR. Considering the enormity of the situation, KKR would be desperate to play Russell. 

RCB have no major injury concerns. 

Deccan Herald’s Dream XI
Devdutt Padikkal, Venkatesh Iyer, Virat Kohli (c), Glenn Maxwell, AB de Villiers, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Andre Russell, Varun Chakravarthy, Yuzvendra Chahal, Lockie Ferguson, Harshal Patel

Impact player for RCB

Harshal Patel: Virat Kohli would be looking towards his strike bowler Harshal Patel to deliver in this match. The speedster is one of the finds of the season as he has picked a stunning 30 wickets this year. He has bowled at an average of just 14.66 and has a strike rate of only 10.46. Only two bowlers have claimed a 5-wicket haul this season, and Patel is one of them. These impressive numbers suggest Patel’s crucial role in the team. 

Impact player for KKR.

Venkatesh Iyer: With Venkatesh Iyer, KKR’s perianal search for a batter to open the innings along side Shubhman Gill has ended. Iyer has been impressive in the UAE leg accumulating 239 runs and hitting two fifties. Iyer’s attacking instincts have made Gill consolidate the innings at the other end. In Iyer and Gill, KKR have a left-right opening pair, which annoys any bowler. Moreover, Iyer is a handy bowler too and can slip in a few overs if need be.