Ed Hawkins previews the clash from the Chinnaswamy on Friday. Can RCB finally get a win under their belt?
"After the Delhi Daredevils changed their name to Delhi Capitals there were reports on April 1 that RCB might change their name to the Royal Challengers Bungling Galore"
Royal Challengers Bangalore v Kolkata Knight Riders
Friday 5 April, 15:30
Live on BT Sport
After the Delhi Daredevils changed their name to Delhi Capitals there were reports on April 1 that RCB might change their name to the Royal Challengers Bungling Galore. Four defeats in four suggests it would be prescient.
It is true, though, that RCB have had issues for years. They have insisted on spending big on batting talent and neglected their bowling stocks, the most important area of any franchise team.
So far this year they have been confused about their best XI and have added to the disorder by chopping and changing roles for the likes of Virat Kohli and Shimron Hetmyer who have opened, not opened, opened etc.
They are boosted here, though, by the availability of Marcus Stoinis and Nathan Coulter-Nile. This surely means the end for two from Hetmyer and Moeen Ali and certainly Colin de Grandhomme, who offers little. And as we have said consistently, Pawan Negi and Washington Sundar need to come in. A pick of Parthiv/Stoinis/Kohli/De Villiers/Moeen/Sundar-Negi-Coulter-Nile-Yadav-Chahal-Siraj is their best hope. Don't expect it to happen.
Waiting on Narine
Kolkata's fast start was slowed by Delhi Capitals last time out, a result which included a horrific implosion from Delhi, something which has been forgotten about because they trumped that against Kings XI.
KKR fought back admirably to take it to a Super Over before Kagsio Rabada pinned them down. Still, there is a lot to like about their squad and in comparison to RCB this is a unit which knows its best team and each player his role.
Andre Russell has, of course, been the star of the show with late hitting and it could be argued that without him they would have been in trouble. It would also be a good idea to get Sunil Narine fit.
Their fast-bowling resources have been depleted so he is required to form a fine spin attack including Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav.
Expecting over 170 runs
The Chinnaswamy is one of the best batting wickets in IPL. In three years the first-innings average is 175. As proof of how good it is and how true it stays, there's a bias for the chaser at 56%. We'd like to go overs on 170 first dig as we know that, in terms of hitting ability, RCB are underperforming. There's also evidence that KKR are a little leaky in the field - they are yet to concede fewer than 180.
KKR look underrated
Early days, of course, but eyebrows are certainly being raised at the match odds. RCB at 2.021/1 and KKR 1.9010/11? This looks like a 1.84/5 game for KKR on form.
The reason for the small gap between the two would have to be the inclusion of Stoinis. Fair enough in some respects. But he is a much better asset if he opens the batting because his reputation as a finisher doesn't bear scrutiny, as witnessed in defeat by Rajasthan when he struggled.
Stoinis was excellent in the Big Bash opening the batting and if RCB have done their homework - they probably haven't - he should form their fourth opening combination in five matches.
Kohli is 2/1 (Sportsbook) for top RCB bat. We bet him last time and he let us down, making it six RCB matches in a row when he has failed to land. That can't continue. He's too short given how often he cops. Only by about 0.3 points, though. Stoinis is 15/2, which is worth taking with the possibility of him opening. For KKR, Nikhil Naik has had to fill in for Narine and the 5s (Sportsbook) catches the eye. Russell is 6s. STOP PRESS: Kohli has been boosted by Sportsbook to 5/2. A good bet.
Coulter-Nile the man
Coulter-Nile provides RCB with an excellent pace option and useful lower-order runs. He is a terrific cricketer. We want to bet him for top RCB bowler at 7/2 (Sportsbook) because on wins in this market he is between 5/2 and 11/4. Job done then? Probably. The 5/2 favourite Yuz Chahal should be more like 3/1 and Umesh Yada, priced at 11/4, should be 4s.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l