What a brilliant start we have had to the IPL 2021 playoffs! We have already seen a nail-biting heavyweight clash and are all set to witness yet another clash that is bound to be a classic as the Kolkata Knight Riders take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
KKR, on the other hand, have had a brilliant second leg, beating the odds to qualify for the playoffs after clawing their way back from being second last on the table to winning five out of seven games to qualify with the highest net run rate among the teams. Youngsters Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer have carried the team with crucial knocks and will look to continue to do the same, while mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy will look to cause damage against a potent RCB bowling unit after picking 16 wickets so far.
RCB come into the business end of the tournament in good form after a rocky start in the first couple of games. The team from Bengaluru has won nine out of their 14 group stage games to finish third on the table. Glenn Maxwell has had a resurgence with RCB after having doubts over his IPL career due to his form with previous franchises. The Australian has been dominant, scoring 498 runs in 13 innings with an average of 45.27. Meanwhile, Harshal Patel has been a revelation in the bowling department for Kohli's men, grabbing 30 wickets in 14 matches.
KKR has the advantage in the head to head clash between the two, winning 16 times out of the 29 times that the two sides have faced each other. RCB will be looking to turn the tide around this time as they hunt for their maiden IPL trophy.
The pitch at the Sharjah Cricket Association stadium being a neutral wicket provides us with a mouth-watering clash between bat and ball. We have seen some brilliant innings from the likes of Sachin Tendulkar on this very ground and can expect a lot of fireworks today with world-class talent on display.
Probable starting XI's for both teams
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (C), Devdutt Padikkal, Kona Srikar Bharat (wk), Glenn Maxwell, AB de Villiers, Shahbaz Ahmed, Dan Christian, George Garton, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal
Kolkata Knight Riders: Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (C), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy
Matchups to look out for
1) Virat Kohli vs Varun Chakravarthy
The captain will be looking to come out firing on all cylinders as he looks to guide his team to their maiden IPL trophy. The pitch favours spinners, so Varun Chakravarthy will be looking to impose his will and cause damage against a potent Bangalore batting unit. Kohli is due for a huge knock, and what other better time than to get going than a crucial qualifier.
2) Mohammed Siraj vs Shubman Gill
Shubman Gill has had a blistering start to the second leg of IPL 2021. The youngster has come up with huge innings whenever his team needed him. The youngster has scored 352 runs in the 14 matches he has played, with an average of 25 and two fifties. Mohammed Siraj, on the other hand, will look to cause maximum damage taking crucial wickets early to set his team up in a good position.
3) Venkatesh Iyer vs Yuzvendra Chahal
This matchup might decide the outcome of the tie as Kolkata's in-form batter goes up against Bangalore's deadliest bowler. Venkatesh Iyer has had a brilliant start to his IPL career since he made his debut seven matches ago. The youngster has scored 239 runs in the seven games with an average of 39.83, along with two huge 50s. Chahal is not only Bangalore's deadliest bowler but also one of the best spinners in the game. The ace bowler will be looking to make the most of the conditions as he piles on the wickets in a crucial tie for his team.