IPL kicked off on Sunday with a blockbuster game between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, but today’s match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore is nothing short of being an ‘El Clasico.’
The reason being this match is between two heavyweight captains - Virat Kohli of India and Eoin Morgan of England - who are touted as favourites to win the T20 World Cup which follows the IPL. Both the captains would like to get off to a winning start, especially Morgan, whose team KKR just has two wins out of seven games and need to win at least five more to have a realistic chance of making it to the play-offs. Virat Kohli’s RCB, meanwhile, are sitting pretty with five wins and two loses.
Morgan has said that his team has nothing to lose and hence are a dangerous side for any team facing them. Moreover, this have been a timely break for KKR after the struggles in India in the first phase of the tournament where they were struggling to get their team combination right. The main issue the Knights faced was that their openers could not get them to a quickfire start as both Nitish Rana and Shubman Gill failed to complement each other.
Their average powerplay score was below 40, which is way too less in the shortest form of cricket. Morgan will have to bring the same brand of fearless cricket in KKR as he does for team England if they have to reach the play-offs. Rahul Tripathi, along with Rana, would be an ideal choice for opening the batting and if an early wicket falls - then it has to be Sunil Narine who had a terrific CPL.
Most importantly, it has to be Morgan who needs to play the anchor role where other players can bat around him - especially dangerous campaigners like Andre Russell and Dinesh Kartik to do the finishing job with a flourish. Morgan himself is such a dangerous player when he spends some time at the crease and has solid strike rate of 138.
It’s about getting the right start and if skipper Morgan can lead from the front and get the right finishing from ‘Dre Russ’ and Kartik, KKR would be hard to stop.
In the first leg played in India, RCB got the better of KKR when the big Show Glen Maxwell and Mr 360 Ab De Villiers had both gone berserk and taken the game away from the Knights.
Can Morgan’s team turn it around in the UAE? Time will tell but Morgan leading from the front will be a big boost for team KKR if the team has to do well!
- Cricket enthusiast and businessman Anis Sajan is Vice Chairman of Danube Group