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Desperate Knights, tense Challengers

cricket Updated: Sep 29, 2011 16:05 IST
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
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Following two straight losses in the main draw, the Kolkata Knight Riders find themselves almost out but clinging on to mathematical possibilities. They need two big wins and favourable results elsewhere to have any chance of progressing to the semi-finals.

That is exactly the situation their next opponents, the Royal Challengers Bangalore, want to avoid when the two sides meet on Thursday. Having lost the tournament opener to the Warriors, RCB got a five-day break before their second game.

They would like to start afresh with a win.

The Warriors currently lead Group B with four points from two matches, followed by Somerset (two from one), South Australian Redbacks (two from two), Royal Challengers (zero from one) and the Knight Riders (zero from two). The KKR also have the second-worst run-rate, above only the Redbacks.

De Villiers out

The Royal Challengers were dealt a blow on Wednesday when AB de Villiers broke his left middle finger during fielding practice at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium here. “He's flying home,” said teammate Virat Kohli.

De Villiers may have surgery back in South Africa on Thursday. De Villiers's departure leaves a hole in the middle-order and behind the stumps. Kohli said either Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper Arun Karthik or Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan will keep wickets in his place.

Big-hitting middle-order batsman Saurabh Tiwary too was seen hobbling after practice, but Kohli said it was a minor hamstring problem. "He should be fine for the game tomorrow."

Virat Surprised

Kohli was surprised by the Knight Riders's poor performance. "They are a pretty good all-round team, and they are at full-strength," he said. "We won't take them lightly in any way, but maybe their confidence will be a bit low and we will try to put pressure on them from ball one."

If the Royal Challengers bat first, the man most likely to apply that pressure would be Chris Gayle. The Jamaican's late and dramatic entry into the Indian Premier League earlier this year saw him smash a brilliant century against the Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens.

He performed in the return leg here as well. Shah Rukh Khan will hope his former Knight does not do something similar to his team on Thursday.