The Kolkata Knight Riders will want to secure a playoff spot, while the Royal Challengers Bangalore will want to stay in the hunt for a place in the top four, when the two sides clash in an IPL 2016 match at the Eden Gardens on Monday. Both teams are coming of handsome victories, so confidence will be high heading into this game in Kolkata.
While KKR have three games to clinch the one win they probably need to assure a spot in the playoffs of IPL 2016, RCB must win all three of their remaining matches to stand a chance of extending the season beyond the league stages.
They certainly did a great job under pressure in their last match, when Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers put on a world record partnership, the kind you are unlikely to see again, against the Gujarat Lions.
That pitch in Bengaluru, however, is completely different from the one that RCB will face in Kolkata, and therein lies the challenge. Kohli and De Villiers are world-class players, capable of weaving their magic on any pitch in any match, and with RCB needing three wins in three, they will bank on their two superstars again.
Another superstar they will hope fires is Chris Gayle. The West Indian has failed to find his touch in IPL 2016, with a double-digit score not even coming his way this season. That cannot go on as far as RCB are concerned, and Kohli will need to make the stick or twist decision. Gayle is too good a player to be sitting out of crucial games, but with KL Rahul doing exceptionally well, there is a case to bring Travis Head back and push the RCB wicketkeeper up the order.
However, considering the magnitude of the game and the fact that he will be playing against his former team, Gayle is likely to keep his place in the playing XI for another match, at least.
RCB do not need to make any other changes to their side, with Chris Jordan finding some much-needed confidence with the ball in that mauling of the Gujarat Lions. If it looks like the pitch might take turn, however, Kohli might consider bringing in Iqbal Abdulla or Parvez Rasool for Varun Aaron or S Aravind.
KKR are still worried over the fitness of Umesh Yadav, who missed the last game, a rain-hit win over RPS, with a hamstring problem. If Umesh misses out again, Ankit Rajpoot should keep his place in the playing XI for this match against RCB.
Sunil Narine came in for Brad Hogg in the last match, after recovering from injury, and the West Indian should stay in the team again. Shaun Tait, brought in for the injured John Hastings, is likely to wait a little while longer for an opportunity.
Expected playing XI: KKR: Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir (C), Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan, Andre Russell, Suryakumar Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Morne Morkel, Sunil Narine, Ankit Rajpoot.
RCB: Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli (C), AB De Villiers, Shane Watson, KL Rahul, Sachin Baby, Stuart Binny, Chris Jordan, S Aravind, Varun Aaron, Yuzvendra Chahal.