The last time the Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore met, the IPL 2016 season had one of its best games, with Yusuf Pathan and Andre Russell, in the end, putting on a match-winning partnership to pull a win out of nowhere at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Come Monday, KKR and RCB clash again, this time at the Eden Gardens, in a match the latter cannot afford to lose.
RCB are coming off an extraordinary win over the Gujarat Lions, who fell to a record 144-run loss, thanks largely to an unforgettable partnership between AB De Villiers and Virat Kohli. The duo put on a staggering 229 runs for the second wicket – a T20 record – to help RCB pile on 248 in their first innings.
The Gujarat Lions never really got into the chase, eventually folding for 104 to hand RCB a morale-boosting win. If the Royal Challengers Bangalore play similar cricket in Kolkata on Monday, there will be little KKR can do. But then, KKR will look to the manner in which they pulled a win from the jaws of defeat to beat RCB in the reverse fixture in Bengaluru.
Yusuf Pathan was the catalyst to that victory, and the right-hander has gone his merry way since, smashing the bowlers at will to win KKR a few more matches. The latest one of those came on Saturday, when Pathan pummelled the RPS bowlers for 37 from 18 balls in a rain-curtailed game.
Pathan is clearly loving it in the middle at the moment, particularly considering he is bringing consistency to his power game, which is so crucial for a key batsman in the middle order.
"We wanted this win," Pathan told IPL's official website after leading his team to an eight-wicket victory. "After the loss in our previous game it was important for us to get those two crucial points in this game. We are playing one game away from home and it is important for us to bank on our home advantage as much as we can.
"I am not thinking too much about my batting at the moment. I feel I am batting very well throughout the tournament and I don't need any other thoughts creeping into my mind while batting. I am just going to continue batting this way in the rest of the matches. If I continue batting like this, I am sure we can finish a lot of games more comfortably."
As good as Pathan might be, though, RCB do have the more menacing batting lineup, particularly with the mood that Kohli and De Villiers are in. Add Chris Gayle to that RCB picture and Russell to the KKR one, and this could be a game where the bowlers, of both teams, go for a fair few.
Where to Watch Live
KKR vs RCB is scheduled for an 8 p.m. IST (3.30 p.m. BST, 10.30 a.m. ET) start. Below are the TV and live streaming online options.
Middle East and North Africa: TV: OSN Sports Cricket. Live Streaming: OSN Cricket Play.
USA: TV: ESPN. Live streaming: Watch ESPN.
Canada: TV: Sportsnet. Live Streaming: Watch Sportsnet.
South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa: TV: Supersport. Live Streaming: Supersport Live Video.
International (ROW): Cricketgateway.