Royal Challengers, Knight Riders both upbeat ahead of clash
Bangalore: With six wins on the trot, home team Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are brimming with confidence to take on Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) Saturday to seal their place among the top four for a play-off in the 2011 Indian Premier League.
Having beaten KKR by nine wickets in a league encounter in Kolkata April 22, RCB are betting again on their fiery opener Chris Gayle for a repeat performance to maintain their winning record on the home turf.
Though RCB signed up Gayle midway in place of an injured Dirk Nannes, the fiery West Indian has been instrumental in the home team`s winning spree, having scored 398 runs in six innings, with two centuries (102 and 107) against KKR and Kings XI Punjab at an average of 99.50.
With the other opener Tillakratne Dilshan leaving for Colombo to lead Sri Lanka squad to the England tour this summer, RCB are exploring the possibility of playing again Mayank Agarwal or Saurabh Tiwary with Gayle in their 12th league match at the Chinnaswamy stadium in this tech hub.
"It is not just Gayle but there are other batsmen in the RCB side we have to deal with. But Gayle has done a terrific job for his team. Every team is working hard to get him out early and we will be doing the same," admitted KKR coach Dave Whatmore at a pre-match presser here Friday.
The `Gayle storm` made RCB notch up 15 points from 11 games and a third spot in the table. Another win over KKR will push them to the top with 17 points and ahead of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) with a better net run rate, which is currently +0.834.
With 14 point from 11 matches, KKR too require two points to cement their place in the play-offs though both the teams have two more games to make up in the event of a defeat Saturday.
RCB`s dashing batsman Virat Kohli, who will lead again in place of their injured skipper Daniel Vettori, was upbeat on taming the Knight Riders with the solid backing of the home crowd.
"We are determined to keep the momentum as we have three more games to go before the play-offs. We need to keep focused on winning every game so that we peak at the right time to get into the top four and enter the final," Kohli told reporters before going into practice session after sudden heavy afternoon showers drenched the ground.
The young Kohli, the only player RCB retained for the IPL-4 tournament, led the team to a nine-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur May 11.
"We have three combinations to try for the opening pair in absence of Dilshan. We have lost important players on earlier occasions during the last two years. But we have players in the team who are ready to take up the mantle," he said.
Similarly, KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir, who has been appointed India captain for the upcoming West Indies tour early June, is keen to avenge the stunning defeat by RCB at Eden Gardens last month by tackling Gayle and other batters early.
"I have played under Gambhir before; he is very good captain and motivates all players. He always gives 100 per cent on the field. I observed this quality in him during the tour of New Zealand last year," Kohli recalled.