Kolkata Knight Riders v Royal Challengers Bangalore
Monday 20 September, 15:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Cummins out, Russell needs to bat higher
Kolkata only lost one player as a result of someone opting out from playing the second half of the season due to fatigue concerns, or other reasons.
But what a player they lost. Pat Cummins was the glue that held the team together as an ace bowler who could do a very capable job batting at seven.
The only player who would have arguably been worse to lose is Andre Russell.
Speaking of which, for KKR's sake, I hope that they don't make the same mistake as Jamaica did over in the CPL. They batted him as low as eight on occasion and missed out on his potential to score at an incredible rate for enough overs at the death. There's no reason whatsoever why he should ever bat lower than six, irrespective of match-ups, or team tactics.
Sunil Narine should continue as a sort of floater in that middle-order while Harbhajan Singh may get a decent go on turning wickets from this point onwards.
Probable XI Gill, Rana, Tripathi, Morgan, Russell, Karthik, Narine, Harbhajan, Ferguson, Chakravarthy, Mavi
Mumbai slow starters
RCB suffered a big player exodus, losing Daniel Sams, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson, Finn Allen, and Scott Kuggeleijn; all of them opted out.
They also lost Washington Sundar, who as a spinning Indian all-rounder is perhaps a greater loss than any of those.
But regarding the others, maybe it's not such a drama after all. Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers were always going to take two of those overseas spots anyway and the others all had a go without any of them really impressing.
It could mean a place in the team for Tim David, who is quickly becoming one of the best finishers in the game with some huge hits in the death overs. He was in superb form at the start of the CPL before losing a bit of form but in general terms, he's getting better and better.
Sri Lankan Wanindu Hasaranga may well get a game but if it was me in charge of RCB, I'd play Dan Christian in that number six or seven all-rounder's position.
Possible XI Paddikal, Kohli, Maxwell, De Villiers, Azharudeen/Baby, Jamieson, Hasaranga, Harshal, Chahal, Siraj, Saini
Over the last two years, 7.5 is the average run rate, meaning it's the lowest-scoring ground of the three in the UAE.
It's definitely a chaser's ground. Then again, both teams would probably prefer to chase even if it wasn't.
KKR trade your best bet
It's one of those. RCB look the better side on paper, started the season much better and won both of the matches played here in the UAE last season. That explains why they're the 1.774/5 favourites.
But we'll have to see how they go about their business in terms of team selection, tactics and batting orders before going in as favourites.
Then again, Kolkata can't be trusted and have their own Pat Cummins-shaped problem to solve.
They are admittedly 14-13 ahead on the head to head but this is not one of the vintage KKR teams.
Your best bet here would be to back KKR as outsiders if they bowl first and hope to trade them out on the Exchange at around the 1.84/5 mark.
'Strange man' Narine can go well with the ball
Sunil Narine is a strange man.
In the past he's actually opted out of playing in World Cups and preferring to get himself prepared for franchise tournaments.
And this time round he clearly didn't put in any hard work in terms of getting himself as fit as he could have been, because that was the reason why he was left out of the Windies World Cup squad. As was Sherfane Rutherford.
It's a huge shame for both him and the Windies because he was excellent in the CPL.
Yes, 12 wickets in 10 games is solid rather than spectacular but a brilliant economy rate of 4.37 paints a good picture of just how well he's been bowling. It wasn't his fault that batsmen preferred to just defend against him. If anything, it was out of huge respect.
These wickets will be somewhat similar to Warner Park in the Caribbean and he should go well here. He's fifth favourite and 4/1 is too big a price.
No rust for Maxwell
Glenn Maxwell is the sort of player who can go a few months without having a net and then come out and score 60 off 35. A bit like David Gower used to be.
The not needing practice, not the strike rate.
He was after all RCB's leading runscorer before the break with 223 runs at an average of 37 and a strike rate of 144.80.
De Villiers hasn't been playing either, nor has Devdut Padikkal, while Virat Kohli took his time to find any sort of form out in England. Different format of course but form is form.
Maxwell will surely bat at three and I just have the feeling he'll deal with rustiness better than most. At 9/2, he's worth chancing.