Apart from the Kings XI Punjab, the Royal Challengers Bangalore have been the most impressive side in IPL 2014 so far. RCB will look to put in a third straight sound all-round effort on Thursday evening when they take on the Kolkata Knight Riders in Sharjah.
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The game is scheduled for an 8 pm IST (6.30 pm local time, 3.30 pm BST, 10.30 am ET) start with live coverage on Sony Max and Sony Six. Catch the action via live streaming online in India HERE or HERE. Rest of the world can catch the IPL action HERE, HERE or through the GoCricket apps. Viewers in the US can live stream the action HERE, while audience in Canada can do the same HERE.
Viewers in the Middle East and North Africa can catch the action on OSN and with the link HERE. New Zealand viewers can do the same through Sky NZ HERE. Viewers in the UK can catch the action live on ITV, while Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will have TV coverage via Geo Super, Maasaranga TV and Carlton Sports Network respectively.
The formula of bowling first and chasing down a total has worked perfectly for RCB this season, with their bowlers, surprisingly, coming to the fore in some style, restricting their opponents to totals of 145 and 115, which, expectedly, has been meat and drink for the formidable Royal Challengers batsmen.
Come Thursday, however, RCB will come up against probably the best bowling side in the tournament thus making it an intriguing battle. "It is always good to start the tournament on a high note," RCB wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel said. "The two wins have given us a lot of confidence, and it is important to keep the momentum going in such a tournament.
"They are probably one of the best bowling sides in the tournament. They have done well and won a game and lost one. We cannot take our opposition lightly."
Doubts, however, continue to linger over the availability of Chris Gayle, who has missed the opening two matches for the Bangalore franchise with a back problem. Patel said he was not aware if Gayle would be fit to play against KKR, but insisted RCB remain a formidable batting unit even without the incomparable West Indian opener.
"We have done well without Gayle, which shows how strong our batting is," Patel added. "Once Chris comes, obviously, it will be a great boost for the team and I am sure he will be a very big threat for the other teams. Having said that, our bowlers have done really well to restrict the opponents, which has helped us chase down targets."
KKR picked up an impressive opening win over the Mumbai Indians, but their much-vaunted bowling lineup could not stop JP Duminy and the Delhi Daredevils from overhauling a score of 166. "We would like to look at the positives out of that game," KKR batting coach WV Raman said. "We were in a tight situation in that game while batting, but we got out of it and posted a good score. The good thing about the team is that the guys are there to put their hands up and be counted."
One major concern for the Knight Riders is the form of captain Gautam Gambhir, who is yet to open his account in IPL 2014 after two successive ducks. Raman, though, is not too concerned about his skipper's form.
"Gautam Gambhir is just one knock away from striking form," Raman added. "He is too good a player to allow this to happen for too long. Hopefully, he will get going sooner rather than later and once he gets going, you know what he is capable of.
"You know what has happened as far as results are concerned for KKR when he has got going. We are hoping that he will find his rhythm quickly."
Expected lineups: Royal Challengers Bangalore: Chris Gayle or Nic Maddinson, Parthiv Patel, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, AB De Villiers, Albie Morkel, Sachin Rana, Mitchell Starc, Ashok Dinda, Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Aaron.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir, Jacques Kallis, Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, Piyush Chawla, R Vinay Kumar, Morne Morkel, Sunil Narine.