Preview: Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will look to continue the momentum from their last outing when they take on Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in an Indian Premier League (IPL) fixture at the Eden Gardens here on Sunday.
A Chris Gayle hurricane (38-ball 77) coupled with Kohli's 50-ball 64 guided RCB to their second win of the campaign against Gujarat Lions in their previous outing.
Despite the absence of South African star AB de Villiers, the sought-after franchise toyed with their rivals bowling posting 213 to which Brendon McCullum (72 off 44 balls) staged a good fightback but eventually fell short by 21 runs.
RCB are still languishing at third from bottom in the eight-team points table losing four of their six matches. Shorn of star power initially with the likes of Kohli and de Villiers not playing the first three and two matches respectively, the three-time runners-up were also ruffled by the iffy form of Australian all-rounder Shane Watson.
Since the arrival of Kohli (against Mumbai Indians) and de Villiers (against Kings XI Punjab), their batting has looked the part though both the superstars ended on the losing side in their respective opening ties.
Coming back from a shoulder injury he picked while captaining India against Australia in the four-match Test series, Kohli smashed 67 in his first game, while AB announced his arrival with an unbeaten 89 off just 46 deliveries. But triumphs have been hard to come by for RCB.
Besides Gujarat, RCB have won against Delhi Daredevils only. Samuel Badree's hat-trick against Mumbai was the high point as far as their bowling is concerned but in that match too, they ended up second best due to an underwhelming batting show.
Badree has been one of the most economical bowlers this season, leaking just 41 runs in his eight overs from two games so far. Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has taken the most wickets for side with seven to his name.
England fast bowler Tymal Mills, whom RCB roped in this term for a whopping Rs 12 crore, and de Villiers have been given the green signal to play. If the pair comeback, Travis Head and Shane Watson will in all likelihood have to sit out.
Talking about the home team, Gautam Gambhir's wards saw their juggernaut being halted by Gujarat at the same venue on Friday.
Poor bowling cost the two-time champions the math which for larger parts was in their control.
Against arguably the best batting lineup, head coach Jacques Kallis would want to plug the gaps as soon as possible.
"We don't become a bad bowling unit after just one game. We will have some good game plans in place. RCB are down in the table, and they are looking for some form," Kallis had said at the post match media interaction on Friday.
"We will have to use that to our advantage. We still have a lot of confidence. The boys are playing with freedom and playing well. We haven't been able to put up a complete game so far, but when we start doing that we will be a tough side to beat," the 41-year-old South African added.
Sunil Narine's pyrotechnics on Friday (17-ball 42) gave KKR a flying start on Friday and also vindicated the team management's decision to make the most of the Powerplay. Robin Uthappa's form (48-ball 72) also augurs well for the hosts along with Manish Pandey who has been in great form this season.
Big-hitting Yusuf Pathan has also looked to bat for a longer period and against Delhi Daredevils played a gem of a knock under pressure. Suryakumar Yadav's lean patch is a cause of concern with the KKR vice-captain just not getting runs under his belt.
In the 18 engagements between the two teams since 2008, both outfits have won nine times each.
KKR: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Robin Uthappa, Shakib Al Hasan, Chris Lynn, Umesh Yadav, Yusuf Pathan, Sheldon Jackson, Ankit Singh Rajpoot, Trent Boult, Chris Woakes, Rishi Dhawan, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rovman Powell, R. Sanjay Yadav, Ishank Jaggi, Darren Bravo, Sayan Ghosh, Colin de Grandhomme
RCB: Virat Kohli (captain), AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Pawan Negi, Tymal Mills, Aniket Choudhary, Praveen Dubey, Billy Stanlake, Yuzvendra Chahal, Harshal Patel, Mandeep Singh, Adam Milne, S. Aravind, Kedar Jadhav, Shane Watson, Stuart Binny, Samuel Badree, Iqbal Abdulla, Travis Head, Sachin Baby, Avesh Khan, Tabraiz Shamsi, Harpreet Singh.
With inputs from IANS