Kolkata Knight Riders v Royal Challengers Bangalore: Can RCB enjoy a few last hurrahs before waving goodbye?

Moeen Ali Royal Challengers Bangalore IPL 2019
Moeen Ali has been one of few Royal Challangers to impress in IPL 2019

An out-of-form KKR host an RCB side preparing to walk from through the exit door. You play this one on the prices, says James Buttler...

"A side that always looks better on paper than it does on the pitch has to be questioned. Is Virat Kohli the right man to captain them? Did they get the balance right at the auction? Have they got the right head coach in Gary Kirsten? I'd suggest the answers are no, no and yes. If one of the most glamorous sides are going to end their trophyless history, they need to go back to the drawing board."

Kolkata Knight Riders v Royal Challengers Bangalore
Friday April 19, 15:30
Live on BT Sport and Star Gold (Sky channel 729)

Pressure on KKR to halt slide

Kolkata Knight Riders are four-from-eight as they head into the nitty gritty of the IPL 2019 league season. That was so much better a few games ago, but a run of three straight defeats has plunged them from second to sixth in the table. With most other sides having collected points against a beleaguered Bengalaru side, this is certainly a match Dinesh Karthik's side will be expecting to win. The champions in 2012 and 2014 need to bring their A-game to the rest of the league phase.

KKR lost to Chennai on Sunday, but CSK have been the form side in the first half of the season. Englishman Harry Gurney is enjoying a sudden career resurgence after landing a number of T20 deals around the world. This is his biggest domestic stage yet and the seamer is likely to keep his place for the visit of RCB after taking three wickets in his three games at a decent 8.20 runs per over. It is symptomatic that a lot of coverage describe 32-year-old Gurney as a youngster - for many he's come from nowhere.

Wickets have been shared around the KKR bowling attack, but it is Andre Russell that has hit the headlines with his incredible batting displays. He has scored 312 runs at a phenomenal strike-rate of 213.69. It's hard to believe the West Indian is a human being at times. A recent shoulder injury has confirmed that the all-rounder is flesh and blood and KKR will be desperate to get him fit for Friday.

RCB always less than sum of their parts

Imagine the thinnest possible thread and then halve it. That is what Virat Kohli's RCB side are hanging by in this IPL 2019 season. To progress into the play-offs the bottom side, with just one win in eight matches, must win every one of their remaining games and hope plenty of other results go their way too. It's an improbable ask.

It has been a hugely disappointing season from RCB and questions must be asked ahead of their next campaign. A side that always looks better on paper than it does on the pitch has to be questioned. Is Virat Kohli the right man to captain them? Did they get the balance right at the auction? Have they got the right head coach in Gary Kirsten? I'd suggest the answers are no, no and yes. If one of the most glamorous sides are going to end their trophy-less history, they need to go back to the drawing board.

Dale Steyn has joined the squad as a replacement for the injured Nathan Coulter-Nile and looks set to replace Umesh Yadav in the starting XI. The introduction of the South African speedster could give RCB more control in the field.

You have to play the prices

There have been 24 matches played between KKR and RCB, with Kolkata winning 15-9 to date, including winning the last five encounters. Kolkata won the reverse fixture in Bengalaru by five wickets and it's tough to back against them with home advantage in this one. BUT, and you may think I am crazy, I am favouring RCB for this game at a tempting 2.1011/10. You can't take an odds-on price on a KKR side that has lost three successive matches.

Rana and Russell provide batting value for Kolkata

If fit, Andre Russell at 9/2 continues to provide the value in the top batsman markets for KKR. With Chris Lynn, Joe Denly, Robin Uthappa and Nitish Rana all capable, but inconsistent, the big West Indian has outscored them all by a mile this season, and often bailed out his top order. If I had to pick a top order played it would be Nitish Rana at 4/1 that would take my cash, and you could easily Dutch-up both my picks to increase your chances.

Moeen Ali influence growing in RCB camp

There really are only three realistic horses in the race to be top RCB bat. Virat Kohli is the best player in the world, but too short at 15/8 in such a volatile format. If I could swap skin with any current player it would be AB de Villiers as he is capable of anything, but again he's 3/1 and maybe a little skinny. Moeen Ali is my pick in this game at 6/1. He motored to a fifty in the last match and is growing in confidence as the tournament progresses. He leaves shortly for England duty and will want to go out with a bang.

Russell the muscle the pick for Man of the Match

Two words - Andre Russell. If Dre Russ is fit and plays anywhere near the standard he has become known for in 2019 he is a standout 6/1.

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Follow James on Twitter @cricket_badger

James Buttler at IPL 2019

Units Staked 43.50
Units Returned 52.61
Profit/Loss: +9.11 units

IPL 2018 P/L +10.83
IPL 2017 P/L +3.36

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