IPL-Dinesh Karthik
Man of the moment: Dinesh Karthik, whose blazing form as a finisher for RCB earned him a call-up to the Indian T20 team, on his way to Kolkata. Image Credit: Twitter/RCB

Kolkata: It’s a no-brainer that the experience of playing in the pressure cooker atmosphere of IPL play-offs gives any team an advantage. This is an area where Royal Challengers Bangalore scores heavily when they take on newcomers Lucknow Super Giants in the Eliminator at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday.

Faf du Plessis, their new skipper, had been a vital cog in the wheel in the triumph of Chennai Super Kings as recently as last year in the UAE alongwith Josh Hazlewood, the leader of their pace bowling unit. Dinesh Karthik, who had been there and done that in IPL for a number of franchises, played in that same final for Kolkata Knight Riders.  

For Virat Kohli, their talismanic former skipper, who has endured everything from finishing on the wrong side of a final to falling short in the play-offs despite piling the record number of runs for any batsman in IPL in a season, it’s actually one of the best chances for redemption. The ongoing season has seen him hit a rough patch like no other, including three golden ducks, but the aggressive intent was back in his batting during the innings of 73 in their last league game and Gujarat Titans and more importantly - gave him some priceless time out in the middle.


The Lucknow camp, under the guidance of their shrewd mentor Gautam Gambhir who has played a lot of cricket against the master batter, will try to exploit his early tentativeness in the powerplay with the nippy Sri Lankan Dusmantha Chameera and left-armer Mohsin Khan on and outside the off-time line. The fresh wicket at the Eden is expected to offer some life for the pacers early on, and the onus will be on Kohli to not betray any anxiety to hit the top gear.

A redeeming feature about RCB’s campaign this season, despite the sudden dip in the middle, had been the evolution of their batting line-up which had learnt to cope with the poor form of Kohli and Du Plessis far from hitting his 2021 run. The way youngsters like Rajat Patidar, Mahipal Lomror and allrounder Shahbaz Ahmed took the responsibility along with the fireworks of finisher Dinesh Karthik (Glenn Maxwell joined the squad late), the batting unit now seems ready for any possible early hiccups.

Lucknow, on the other hand, will be kicking themselves for letting the opportunity go of having two bites at the cherry. The K.L.Rahul-led team was hovering among the top two positions of the table for a better for a better part of the league but now find themselves at number three where a loss would knock them out of the competition.

However, much like the other debutants Titans, they were quite consistent throughout the season despite their batting being overtly reliant on the skipper and his opening partner Quinton de Kock, with the South African’s blazing innings of 140 and their epic partnership against the Knights just coming at the right time. The middle order, however, looked thin with Deepak Hooda and Krunal Pandya not being able to rise to the occasion higher up the order while their allrounder Marcus Stoinis failing to emulate his performance with the Delhi Capitals.

Catch the match

Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Lucknow Super Giants


Venue: Eden Gardens, Kolkata

Start: 6 pm UAE