Royal Challengers Bangalore’s star brigade vs Gautam Gambhir’s brain
Virat Kohli or Gautam Gambhir?
Eden Gardens could be torn between two of their favourites when it comes to offering support at the Lucknow Super Giants versus Royal Challengers Bangalore Eliminator contest of the IPL on Wednesday.
Kohli’s return to form in RCB’s last league match has coincided with them making the playoffs stage. If that ends months of uncertainty and anxiety over what had turned into a national debate, it confirms that big-match players reserve their best for the last.
RCB practised at the Jadavpur University campus ground at Salt Lake in the afternoon and the former captain feasted on the big hits during a 20-minute net session. Kohli realises what his getting runs at the top of the order means for the franchise and will hope that the jigsaw pieces fall into place again.
RCB do have such experienced customers in abundance. There’s Faf du Plessis and Glenn Maxwell who have often chosen the big stage to exhibit their talent. Only last season the RCB captain had made 86 in the final as Chennai Super Kings overcame Kolkata Knight Riders for their fourth title. Faf is RCB’s highest run-getter this season, 443 at a strike-rate of 130.60.
Maxwell can’t be left behind. A specific role always makes his task easier and the enormity of the occasion might just enthuse him to bring out his best. The move to promote Maxwell to No.3 in their last match paid off and the optimism persists.
RCB’s failure to perform both with the bat and ball in the Powerplay overs has been their biggest deterrent. But if the top three perform with the bat, it could make the task of Dinesh Karthik a tad easier.
Karthik has 287 runs at a strike-rate of 191.33 this season, 213 of those coming in the end overs. While his record against the pacers has worked to perfection, DK has been susceptible against the spinners.
Containing Karthik could form an essential part of Gambhir’s game plan. Eden Gardens will always have a soft corner for the Super Giants mentor who, as Knight Riders captain, had guided the franchise to two IPL titles.
Gambhir has orchestrated every move for the new franchise from the outset. It’s no surprise then that KL Rahul’s every move on the field has been planned at the drawing board stage. Rahul and Quinton de Kock have been the best performing opening pair in this edition. Such has been their dominance that every time any of them has crossed 40, the team has won. Their failure has meant defeat for the franchise.
Much like their openers, how their pace attack comprising Avesh Khan, Mohsin Khan, Jason Holder and
Dushmanta Chameera performs against Kohli and Faf could decide the course of the match. Gambhir is known to be a master strategist and he will have plans to tame RCB’s star power.