Kolkata: A demoralising defeat in their own den will certainly serve as a wake-up call for the Kolkata Knight Riders bowlers as they take on a menacing Royal Challengers Bangalore batting line-up in an Indian Premier League encounter, here tomorrow.
On a batting beauty at the Eden Gardens, KKR will face the onerous task of stopping a back-in form Chris Gayle and the ever dangerous Virat Kohli.
Having started off with four wins in five matches, Kolkata Knight Riders wilted against Suresh Raina’s assualt to lose their first match at home last night as they brace for a bigger challenger when they face the resurgent RCB, in a second match in three days.
For a team that has shown super consistency in both batting and bowling, the timing of the loss will be hurting for the Gautam Gambhir’s men.
It has come at a time when most of the teams, including the bottom-placed Gujarat Lions, have begun to look up while for KKR the slide has begun, having slipped to second place in the crucial mid-phase of the eight-team league.
Struggling to find their rhythm, the star-studded Kohli brigade have finally found their expression right with the familiar mayhem of Chris Gayle.
Reunited with Kohli at the opening spot, Gayle cantered to 77 off 38 balls, his first halfcentury in 17 matches and went on to become the only batsman to scale Mt 10,000 in the T20 format.
Gayle and Kohli put together 122 runs in 76 balls, in an ominous sign for the KKR camp as Gambhir have admitted to have been reeling under the effect.
“We all love Chris Gayle’s batting, don’t we? Personally, I love the entire package of this man-mountain. He is a delight for marketing men, broadcasters, and of course us, the lesser mortals, his fans who were not surprised that he reached 10000 runs in this format.
“My fancy for a hitting option at the top tells me that I am reeling big time under Gayle-effect!,” Gambhir has said before their last night loss to the Lions.
The Shakib-Al-Hasan formula did not work for Gambhir against the Lions as he conceded at 10.33 as the skipper may resort to his trusted pace spearhead of Trent Boult to tackle the Gayle-effect.
Gujarat Lions may have chased down 188 with 10 balls to spare in a four-wicket win but in hindsight KKR’s bigger problem lies with wicketkeeping.
In order to play an extra batsman, they have been resorted to part-time wicketkeeper Uthappa who has been shoddy behind the stumps.
His latest drop of the season was the architect of last night’s win Suresh Raina who made full use of the reprieve on one off Sunil Narine to post a match-winning 84.
In such a scenario, it won’t be a bad ploy to relieve Uthappa of wicketkeeping and play Saurashtra lad Sheldon Jackson in stead of Suryakumar Yadav who has failed to impact — 29 runs at 7.25 average — in four innings.
From 96/1 in 10 overs thanks to a Sunil Narine’s show at the top, KKR could only manage 187/5 from the stipulated 20 overs as head coach Jacques Kallis to admitted they were 10-15 runs short.
“With the start, we would have liked to get 200, so it was disappointing not to get those 10-15 runs more,” Kallis said.
Their weak bowling is an area KKR would like to exploit as they would hope to win the toss and hunt down the target in the familiar conditions.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Darren Bravo, Trent Boult, Piyush Chawla, Nathan Coulter Nile, Colin De Grandhomme, Rishi Dhawan, Sayan Ghosh, Shaikb-Al-Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Ishank Jaggi, Kuldeep Yadav, Chris Woakes, Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Ankit Rajpoot, Suryakumar Yadav, Robin Uthappa and Umesh Yadav.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (Captain), Tymal Mills, Aniket Chaudhary, Praveen Dubey, Billy Stanlake, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Yuzvendra Chahal, Harshal Patel, Mandeep Singh, Adam Milne, Sarfaraz Khan, Sreenath Arvind, Kedar Jadhav, Shane Watson, Stuart Binny, Samuel Badree, Iqbal Abdulla, Travis Head, Sachin Baby, Avesh Khan and Tabraiz Shamsi.
Match starts 8pm IST.