Sharjah, October 11
Kolkata Knight Riders will have a lot on their plate when they take on a resurgent Royal Challengers Bangalore in an IPL match here on Monday with their lethal weapon Sunil Narine blunted by a chucking complaint and fitness clouds hovering over enforcer Andre Russell.
Narine, who have had multiple complaints of suspect action against him, is again in trouble after on-field umpires’ report post KKR’s thrilling two-run win against Kings XI Punjab in which the spinner played a massive role.
Not only KXIP, but the match against CSK also witnessed Narine’s entry after 10 overs, stifling Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men. It seemed that the spinner was getting his mojo back and could have been a handful for Virat Kohli’s in-form men.
However, the first warning (a second one would bar him from bowling) from the IPL authorities is certain to ring alarm bells in the KKR camp as he was supposed to be Dinesh Karthik’s ‘go-to’ man in pressure situations.
It has been learnt that Narine has a problem with a few deliveries, especially the one that breaks back into a right-hander where there is believed to be an elbow flex beyond the permissible limit.
With his batting also not exactly clicking, how KKR fits him in the playing XI will be interesting, knowing that another offence could end his tournament as a bowler.
The two sides have won four of their six games with KKR ahead of RCB on net run rate but inconsistency in batting has been an issue for both the teams.
KKR is placed third in the standings and the two-time champions will be going all out for a victory at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium after registering two back-to-back wins against Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab.
Andre Russell, who hurt his knee when he accidentally dived into the advertisement boards after missing a catch on Saturday, could also be a doubtful starter.
Skipper Dinesh Karthik did not reveal the extent of the injury after the match against KXIP.
“Whenever Russell gets injured, you know it is hard. He is a very special player, he is a very special person. We need to go and look at him,” he said.
RCB, on the other hand, are coming into the game following a 37-run morale-boosting victory against CSK and will fancy their chances.
The biggest positive for RCB is that captain Kohli is slowly hitting the peak with the tournament reaching halfway stage. His unbeaten 90 off 52 balls against CSK with gold standard running between wickets will be remembered for years to come.
Young Devdutt Padikkal has been in good touch but AB de Villiers, who played some exquisite knocks at the beginning of the tournament, has looked off-colour in recent outings.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (c/wk), Eoin Morgan, Shubman Gill, Tom Banton, Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Kuldeep Yadav, Pat Cummins, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Rinku Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Nikhil Naik, Chris Green, M Siddharth, Sandeep Warrier, Varun Chakravarthy and Siddhesh Lad.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), AB de Villiers, Parthiv Patel, Aaron Finch, Josh Philippe, Chris Morris, Moeen Ali, Mohammed Siraj, Shahbaz Ahmed, Devdutt Padikkal, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini, Dale Steyn, Pawan Negi, Isuru Udana, Shivam Dube, Umesh Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Washington Sundar, Pavan Deshpande, Adam Zampa.
The match starts at 7.30 pm IST. PTI