Ever since that April night in 2008 when the first Indian Premier League match was held here at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, the rival outfits — Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders — have traversed diverse paths.
RCB shrugged aside the scars inflicted by Brendon McCullum’s assault and progressed well in the subsequent years though the team is yet to win the championship.
On the other hand, KKR revealed a diffident streak, coped with an identity-crisis in the post-Sourav Ganguly phase and then gifted ecstasy to its fans thanks to last year’s title-triumph.
Cut to the present, the teams will face-off in the latest IPL here on Thursday. The contest will pit two skippers, whose cricketing fortunes have gone in opposite directions.
Cementing his place
RCB’s Virat Kohli, has cemented his place in the Indian team and his star is on the ascendant while Gambhir, after helping KKR claim the trophy last May, has lost his way at the highest level and this summer’s Twenty20 bash, is one of the roads towards redemption.
Tuesday’s victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad has further strengthened Kohli’s credentials as he single-handedly secured the win and also showed RCB that there is a way forward even if Chris Gayle fails. Yet the Caribbean opener will continue to be one of the lead players for the home team and whether AB de Villiers will also don the wicket-keeping gloves, remains a matter of conjecture.
Kohli though would primarily fret over the leaking of runs (62) in the last five overs during the game against the Sunrisers. It is an anomaly that has to be rectified fast while the middle overs at this juncture seem safe in the hands of Muttiah Muralitharan and Murali Kartik.
KKR meanwhile has to get past its slump against Rajasthan Royals. Eoin Morgan’s biff at Jaipur, might lend some heart but the other members of the core-group like Gambhir, Jacques Kallis, Manoj Tiwary and Yusuf Pathan too need to chip in.
The bowling will revolve around Brett Lee and Sunil Narine, who has already scalped six in two games. RCB’s followers would hope for an extension of the winning streak at home and with Thursday being ‘Ugadi’, Kohli’s men can add more cheer to the festivities, if they could tame the Knight Riders.