RCB v Kolkata Knight Riders: Will Kohli serve up a Sunday surrender?

Virat Kohli has a glorious CV, but IPL success is a big omission
Virat Kohli has a glorious CV, but IPL success is a big omission
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It has to be Kolkata for James Buttler as they have a better head-to-head record, they have played better this season and this match is played on a Sunday...

"It defies belief that such a star-studded outfit has failed across the 10 previous IPLs to lift the trophy. It's a monkey on the back on the otherwise fur-free shoulders of captain Virat Kohli. That the Indian sweetheart has failed to get his hands on his country's most sought after domestic silverware is a growing gap on an otherwise exceptional CV."

Royal Challengers Bangalore v Kolkata Knight Riders
Sunday April 29, 15:30
Live on Sky Sports

Royal Challengers Bangalore

The Challengers have become the perennial IPL under achievers and the signs are that this season will be no different. It defies belief that such a star-studded outfit has failed across the 10 previous IPLs to lift the trophy. It's a monkey on the back on the otherwise fur-free shoulders of captain Virat Kohli. That the Indian sweetheart has failed to get his hands on his country's most sought after domestic silverware is a growing gap on an otherwise exceptional CV.

One man in customary fine fettle is AB de Villiers. 280 runs in six knocks so far have included a brutal unbeaten 90. The South African plays shots most of us couldn't execute in front of the bedroom mirror and he is crucial to RCB's chances of making the final four. Kohli (249), Mandeep Singh (171) and Quinton de Kock (165) are the other RCB batsmen to go past a hundred runs in the competition so far. They bat on the best batting track in the IPL and need a few others in their side to go big.

Umesh Yadav with nine wickets at an economy rate of 8.12 and Yuzvendra Chahal with seven scalps at 8.04 are the standout bowlers. Chris Woakes has taken eight wickets but is being knocked around at over 10 an over, which will be a concern.

Kolkata Knight Riders

KKR suffered a crunching defeat on Friday to Delhi Daredevils as they were blown away by the blade of Sheryas Iyer and only Andrew Russell showed any defiance in reply. It was a 55-run defeat that saw them remain in fourth in the standings, but vulnerable to the chasing pack, which includes Bangalore.

Sunil Narine has once again been used as a pinch-hitter and he is one of six KKR players to pass 100 tournament runs. It's with the ball however that he is most vital and with 13 he is second in the all-time wicket-taker standings for this fixture. It is his economy rate, allied to a constant wicket-taking threat, that makes him a huge asset to his franchise. In IPL 2018 he has taken eight wickets at an economy rate of 7.52, which in modern day T20 terms is as tight as a duck's posterior.

KKR have serious balance in their side. With Andrew Russell providing the pyrotechnics, Nitish Rana the youthful promise and Piyush Chawla combining with Narine to bamboozle with spin they are a side to watch with interest over the coming weeks.

KKR the betting value?

A price of 23/20 on Kolkata is a genuine betting steal, isn't it? Yes any side with AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli and Chris Lynn spearheading their batting always has a sniff. But how many times have we heralded RCB in the past only to see then going down far too tamely.

When putting a bet on KKR here the three things that enter my head are: Is it likely KKR can win this game? Yes. Do KKR come into this match with most confidence? Arguably yes. And, have KKR had the better of this fixture in the past? Absolutely.

So three ticks in the box means KKR are wrongly priced at odds against. In 21 previous encounters, KKR lead the head-to-heads by 12-9. In the last two seasons honours are also with KKR by 3-1 and tellingly KKR won both away legs at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, so they travel there again on Sunday knowing it's been a happy hunting ground of late. They bowled RCB out for a paltry 49 in their home win last season. In all matches at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium KKR lead the head-to-heads by a 5-4 margin AND KKR have never been beaten by RCB on a Sunday - they lead the Sunday stakes 3-0.

So yes, RCB have household name match-winners, but there's a massive case for KKR in this game and at 23/20 they simply cannot be ignored.

RCB Top Batsman

It's between Virat and AB isn't it? The Indian is priced as 9/5 favourite and the South African an 11/4 shot. They are both sensible plays and I couldn't make too many arguments against either, but I'm with Quinton de Kock. As a top order player the leftie has the time to go big and his price of 7/2 is too tempting to ignore.

KKR Top Batsman

I'm with Nitish Rana at a sumptuous 5/1, The Indian middle-order starlet so often pops up with a match-swaying fifty when needed and his price is worth the risk.

KKR Top Bowler

I've mentioned him already. Sunil Narine knows how to twirl in T20 and I love the 5/2 on him to add to his impressive tally against RCB.

***

*Follow James on Twitter @cricket_badger

James Buttler at IPL 2018 (at 23.04.18)

Staked: 18pts
Returned: 16.6pts
P/L: -1.4pts

At IPL 2017

Staked: 47pts
Returned: 50.36pts
P/L: +3.36pts

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