The Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore will face Eoin Morgan’s Kolkata Knight Riders in the Eliminator of the IPL 2021 at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, here on Monday.
While KKR will be looking for their third IPL title, desperate RCB are eyeing their maiden crown.
Bangalore, who finished the league stage with 18 points in 14 matches, will be high on confidence after registering a thrilling 7-wicket win over table-toppers Delhi Capitals in their last league match.
On the other hand, Kolkata, who was the last team to qualify for the playoffs, with 14 points in 14 matches, also scored a thumping 86-run win over Rajasthan Royals in their last match.
The winner of the Eliminator will meet the losing side from Qualifier 1 in Qualifier 2 at Sharjah on Wednesday while the losing team will be knocked out of the IPL 2021.
A look at the strengths and weaknesses of both the teams:
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Glenn Maxwell (498 runs in 14 matches), Devdutt Padikkal (390 runs in 13 matches), and KS Bharat (182 runs in 7 matches) have been the match-winners for RCB in the batting department.
In bowling, Harshal Patel (30 wickets), Yuzvendra Chahal (16), Mohammed Siraj (9) have picked key wickets in crucial situations for the team.
The likes of Virat Kohli (366 runs in 14 matches) and AB de Villiers (302 runs in 14 matches) have not been able to perform up to their high standards. Both players will have to come up with their top game if RCB want to beat KKR in Eliminator.
Though the RCB bowlers have made great comebacks in middle overs, they have failed to pick wickets in the powerplay. KKR openers are in fine touch and RCB bowling will have to raise their game in order to give a perfect start to their team.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Rahul Tripathi (377 runs), Shubman Gill (352 runs), Nitish Rana (347 runs), and Venkatesh Iyer (239 runs) have been the backbone of the KKR batting line-up in IPL 2021. The youngsters have played with a fearless approach, especially in the UAE leg of the tournament, and played a key role in KKR’s revival in the tournament.
KKR’s bowling has been terrific this season. The spinners Varun Chakravarthy (16 wickets) and Sunil Narine (10 wickets) have not only contained runs but also claimed wickets. The pitch in Sharjah has been on the slower side and it will also help KKR spinners.
KKR pacers Lockie Ferguson (10 wickets in 5 matches) and Shivam Mavi (9 wickets in 6 matches) have also peaked at the right time.
The batting form of Eoin Morgan (124 runs in 14 matches), Dinesh Karthik (204 runs in 14 matches) have been a concern for KKR this season. If RCB bowlers can dismiss KKR openers early, then the Morgan-led side will be in deep trouble.
There is no clarity on the fitness of all-rounder Andre Russell and his absence in the important match could be a deciding factor.