Kolkata Knight Riders face off with Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians take on Kings XI Punjab in Tuesday’s double-header in Centurion.
Slip sliding away
Having strung together an extraordinary sequence of defeats, KKR are now playing with the lofty ambition of becoming party poopers. The problem is they appear more comfortable slipping into the role of everyone’s favourite whipping boy, as evinced by the sound thrashing they received at the hands of the Delhi Daredevils on Sunday. RCB have had a fairly rough ride, but despite being second last, they are five points ahead of KKR.
Expect the unexpected
KKR fans are wincing as they wait for some more inexplicable selections from John Buchanan and his extended support staff. Already Sourav Ganguly has played a match as a specialist fielder and Ashok Dinda as a specialist batsman and T20 expert David Hussey has flown all the way from Dubai to warm the bench with expensive signings like Mashrafe Mortaza.
A jumbo leap
Appointing Anil Kumble the captain was the best decision RCB took. He will ensure that RCB will be far ahead of KKR in one department — leadership. Kumble has led from the front, which cannot be said about McCullum.
Who will be king?
Kings XI Punjab, boosted by the return of Brett Lee, will look to put some distance between themselves and the Mumbai Indians, who are still trying to get some momentum in their campaign. Sachin Tendulkar has been a disappointment after sparkling in the first half. KXIP pack a bigger punch in their batting, with the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara in their line-up.
The Turbanator is back
Harbhajan Singh’s wonderful bowling against RCB was the biggest plus for MI in their previous tie and the team management will be hoping the Turbanator continues in that vein.
An on-song Harbhajan is the ideal bowler to choke the middle order, particularly if it is exposed early by Lasith Malinga and Co Dwayne Bravo, who is not fit to play for West Indies in Test matches in England but fit enough to take part in IPL, continues to weigh in with important contributions.