Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will be looking to maintain the momentum they generated from a morale-boosting win against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in their last outing when they face Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in their return fixture of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Wednesday.
New Zealand fast bowler Lockie Ferguson roared into the tournament with exceptional figures of 3/15 (four overs) besides 2/2 in the Super-Over to help KKR beat SRH in their previous fixture. It was the 29-year-old's first match of the season and he stepped up at a time when their pace spearhead Pat Cummins was struggling to get wickets.
While Andre Russell (0/29 from 2 overs) turned out to be expensive partly due to the injury he sustained before the start of his final over, the others -- Cummins, Varun Chakravarthy and Kuldeep Yadav -- were economical.
KKR captain Eoin Morgan would also be worried about Russell's form with the bat. The Caribbean all-rounder, also KKR's leading run-scorer with 1,434 runs from 66 games, has failed to create the impact he usually makes in the batting order. It will also be interesting to see whether Morgan brings Sunil Narine back in the playing XI as the spinner has now been cleared of suspect action. With 127 wickets in 116 games, Narine is the top wicket taker for KKR.
On the other hand, RCB's opener Devdutt Padikkal, Aaron Finch, AB de Villiers and captain Virat Kohli have all managed to find form with the bat. Kohli, who was struggling in the initial few games of the season, has led his team from the front, while de Villiers has done what he is best known for.
Against Rajasthan Royals (RR) in their last contest, de Villiers single-handedly blew away the opponents as he smashed 55 of just 22 deliveries. Moreover, the last time the two sides faced each other, de Villiers hammered 73 off 33 balls.
Chris Morris wreaked havoc in the RR line-up with a four-wicket haul and he is a handy option down the order for RCB with the bat. Morris will once again lead the pace attack along with Isuru Udana.
Yuzvendra Chahal, RCB's highest wicket-taker with 113 scalps from 92 games, has been the team's key man in the spin attack and the experienced leggie will need good support from Washington Sundar. While RCB appears to be a favourite on paper, a rejuvenated KKR will be eager to avenge their last defeat and strengthen their position in the standings.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (Captain), AB de Villiers, Parthiv Patel (wk), Aaron Finch, Josh Philippe, Chris Morris, Moeen Ali, Mohammed Siraj, Shahbaz Ahmed, Devdutt Padikkal, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini, Dale Steyn, Pawan Negi, Isuru Udana, Shivam Dube, Umesh Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Washington Sundar, Pavan Deshpande, Adam Zampa
Kolkata Knight Riders: Eoin Morgan (Captain), Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Andre Russell, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Pat Cummins, Varun Chakravarthy, Sunil Narine, Tom Banton, Siddhesh Lad, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrior, Shivam Mavi, Rinku Singh, Chris Green, M Siddharth and Nikhil Naik