Kohli’s men eyeing a hat-trick of wins to go to the top of the points table

Unbeaten so far, Royal Challengers Bangalore would be eyeing a hat-trick of wins to go to the top of points table even as Kolkata Knight Riders look to shake off its last match’s disappointment when the two sides clash against each other in an IPL match here on Thursday.

The star-studded Bangalore, which boasts of some of the most feared Twenty20 batsmen in its line-up, has won both its games so far.

The results have come despite the absence of the destructive Chris Gayle, who has been nursing a sore back. He, however, is expected to be fit for Thursday’s match.

In his absence, the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Parthiv Patel and South African import AB de Villiers have made quite a statement with their efforts to show that the days of RCB being called a one-man show are over.

A slight concern has been skipper Virat Kohli, who is yet to hit the groove, but given his reputation, the lean patch is not expected to last too long.

Kolkata too has a good line-up at its disposal and it too has faired well. Even though there aren’t any big stars, the likes of Manis Pandey and Robin Uthappa have made their presence felt.

However, more would be expected of established players such as skipper Gautam Gambhir and South African legend Jacques Kallis. The form of both these players would be crucial in deciding how far the team manages to progress.

Besides, all-rounder Yusuf Pathan will also have to repay the faith that the team has shown in him despite a prolonged struggle for form.

RCB has slight edge in the bowling department. Mitchell Starc, Albie Morkel and Varun Aaron quite literally stifled star-studded defending champion Mumbai Indians in the previous match. And the trio would be quite a challenge for KKR to deal with.

The KKR bowling, on the other hand, was taken to the cleaners by Delhi Daredevils in the previous game. The likes of Morne Morkel and R. Vinay Kumar seemed helpless as Delhi’s batsmen hit them all over the park.

KKR’s bowlers will find it hard to contain and dismiss RCB’s destructive looking line-up and it would take a special effort for them to escape an onslaught.

Given the make-up of the two teams RCB will start as favourites but KKR would look to spring a surprise.