Royal Challengers Bangalore v Kolkata Knight Riders
Monday October 11, 15:00
TV: live on Sky Sports Cricket
Are RCB over-reliant on Maxwell?
RCB finished third and will be kicking themselves about it not being second. They'll look back at that narrow defeat to SRH in midweek as a missed opportunity to have booked that Top 2 finish and having two chances at making the final.
But at least they come into this on the back of a good win on Friday. In Srikar Bharat they may have found a star wicket-keeper batsman for the future, after he scored 78 off 52 to get their home in an unlikely chase after they lost both openers cheaply. Bharat hit the last ball of the innings for six to win it.
But whereas they may have found a new hero in Bharat, it was a familiar name doing the business with him. Had Glenn Maxwell not struck 51 off 33 at a strike rate of 154 and they wouldn't have come close. On the one hand he's in the form of his life, on the other RCB look far too reliant on him.
George Garton had a better game in conceding just 20 off three overs and Dan Christian should continue in the fourth overseas spot despite being used sparingly with the ball and not yet getting a score with the bat.
Likely Mumbai XI Kohli, Padikkal, Bharat, AB de Villiers, Maxwell, Christian, Ahmed, Garton, Patel, Siraj, Chahal.
KKR bowling looking sharp
It's been a strange season for KKR but they'll certainly take a fourth-placed finish and a chance to go all the way, difficult as it may be needing to win three in a row.
They won three of their last four and the last one was a hammering. Yes, the Royals have been poor all season but they were truly ruthless.
They started off by getting a big total of 171-4 and managed to dismiss the full Royals line-up for just 85.
Shivam Mavi took four and Lockie Ferguson took three. They look a far better side with Ferguson's pace in it and he may just be their most important man on the field today. No batsman wants to be dealing with that sort of speed on pitches that are doing something.
Andre Russell, as ever, is struggling to be fit. If he is, it would be Shakib Al-Hasan missing out rather than Ferguson.
Likely Mumbai XI Iyer, Gill, Rana, Tripathi, Karthik, Morgan, Al Hasan, Narine, Ferguson, Chakravarthy, Mavi.
That the last three matches here yielded first innings score of 164, 90 and 171 tells its own story. A combination of different strips being used ad some pretty poor batting have meant this is no easy task to work out what par is.
Both teams will surely want to chase. At least they'll know what they need rather than being afraid of going too hard and struggling to get to 140. Or not going hard enough and not getting to 170 when the wicket demands it.
A choice affair
It's evens the pair. Fair price? Yeah, probably.
RCB were four points better off in the Group Stages and are fresh from that win where they chased a stiff total under pressure. And let's not forget that was against Delhi, who finished top. But where would they have been without Maxwell's heroics? Would they even be in the Playoffs?
There are a couple of other issues. Openers Devdutt Padikkal and Virat Kohli (of all people) are badly out of form. They're showing faith in Christian, but he hasn't got going yet.
As for KKR, their bowling has improved massively and they may actually be a better side with a fully fit Shakib performing well in all three disciplines than one where a half-fit Russell does what he can, but is clearly going through the pain barrier.
But I'm still not convinced by their middle-order, where Eoin Morgan, in particular, has struggled. The likes of Dinesh Karthik and Shakib haven't spent much time at the crease and that could come back to haunt them.
I agree it's a 50/50 affair so we'll leave it at that.
Had he not had so many injuries and we may have been talking about Lockie Ferguson in the same breath as a Mitchell Starc or Jasprit Bumrah.
This year he has played just five matches after (you guessed it) an injury and has taken 10 wickets at a strike rate of 10.8. In other words, assuming he bowls his four overs, you'd expect him to get just north of two wickets a game.
Let's see how that stacks up against the other KKR bowlers.
Chakravarthy has 16 wickets but needed 14 games to get them (SR 21) while Russell has an even better strike rate than Ferguson (10.36) for his 11 wickets but as we know, is unlikely to play. He's even more unlikely to bowl four overs if he does play.
Sunil Narine and Mavi have decent economy rates but their strike rates are nowhere near that of Ferguson. Back the Kiwi and his menacing pace at 11/4 to take the most wickets.
Made for Maxi
You could easily make a case for Maxwell in either the top bat or bowler market.
Take the top batsman one. Here are his last five scores: 56, 50, 57, 40 and 51. In the first three he top scored. In the fourth he fell one run short after being run out by the man (Padikkal) who beat him by one.
In the last match he would probably have won had they not promoted AB de Villiers ahead of him, which didn't leave him enough balls to face. Either way, sound like a 4/1 shot?
At 12/1 you could back him for top bowler. The fly in the ointment is that he's only bowled 13 overs in 14 games for his three wickets but he's been used more over the last couple of matches so if he's asked to bowl three, you may have a shot at a big price.
In between those two prices is the 8/1 he's man of the match. And that's the one for me.
He's won three already this season and is very much their main with the bat. Not just that, but when he scores runs he scores them quickly, which catches the eye of the judges. A wicket or two would certainly help his cause.
Of course, we'd need RCB to win for him to get his hands on it. But then again, that's factored into the price.
At the odds, it's worth chancing.
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