Sharjah: 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 their last match`s disappointment when the two sides clash against each other in an IPL match here Thursday.
The star-studded Bangalore, which boast of some of the most feared Twenty20 batsmen in their line-up, have won both their 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 today`s match.
In his absence, the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Parthiv Patel and South African import A B 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 have a good line-up at their disposal and it too has faired well. Even though there aren`t any big stars to boast of but the likes of Manish 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 have slight edge in the bowling department. Mitchell Starc, Albie Morkel and Varun Aaron quite literally stifled star-studded defending champions Mumbai Indians in their previous match.
And the trio would be quite a challenge for KKR to deal with in today`s game.
The KKR bowling, on the other hand, was taken to the cleaners by Delhi Daredevils in their 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 clear favourites but KKR would look to spring a surprise.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (c), Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Yuvraj Singh, Parthiv Patel, Albie Morkel, Mitchell Starc, Ashok Dinda, Ravi Rampaul, Muttiah Muralitharan, Nic Maddinson, Varun Aaron, Vijay, Sachin Rana, Yogesh Takawale, Abu Nechim Ahmed, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shadab Jakati, Sandeep Warrier, Harshal Patel, Tanmay Mishra.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (c), Sunil Narine, Jacques Kallis, Robin Uthappa, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan, Umesh Yadav, Vinay Kumar, Morne Morkel, Piyush Chawla, Manish Pandey, Veer Pratap Singh, Chris Lynn, Andre Russell, SS Mandal, Pat Cummins, Debabrata Das, Suryakumar Yadav, Manvinder Bisla, Ryan ten Doeschate, Kuldeep Yadav.