Daijiworld Media Network
Sharjah, Apr 24: Bangalore have started their 2014 T20 League campaign with two wins in a row. The bowlers who were termed as the weak link in the side have stepped up to deliver in both the games. Parthiv has been the mainstay for them with the bat in the two matches and there will be a lot of positives to take as they won without Gayle in the side. Kolkata have had a mixed start. After thumping Mumbai in the first game, they lost a close one to Delhi. Manish Pandey has been their main scorer and Narine leads a well accomplished bowling attack. Hello and welcome to Match 11 of the Indian T20 League. It is a contest between the Bangalore batsmen and the Kolkata bowlers. In four hours time we will know who comes out on top.
Bangalore have won the toss and have opted to field.
Gambhir: 'Hopefully, I can get some runs today. It is disappointing to have not scored runs yet but the team has been doing well. I have been shopping but for runs. The wicket will not change much today and we have the bowling to defend the total. Umesh replaces Piyush, Lynn comes in for Shakib. We should have a good platform before we can explode.'
Kohli: 'Its been quite a journey and it has been exciting to be with Bangalore for 7 years. It looks like a dry wicket and it brings back memories when Sachin scored those two hundreds here. I would like to wish him a very happy birthday. We are going to have a bowl first. We have two changes, Murali and Takawale come in for Madddinson and Sachin Rana. Unfortunately, Gayle hasn't recovered fully.'
Kolkata (Playing XI): Gautam Gambhir(c), Jacques Kallis, Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa(w), Yusuf Pathan, Chris Lynn, Suryakumar Yadav, Vinay Kumar, Sunil Narine, Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav
Bangalore (Playing XI): Parthiv Patel(w), Virat Kohli(c), Yuvraj Singh, AB de Villiers, Albie Morkel, Yogesh Takawale, Mitchell Starc, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ashok Dinda, Varun Aaron, Muttiah Muralitharan
First they thrashed Delhi by 8 wickets and then they beat Mumbai by 7 wickets. So it's easy to say that Bangalore have done all the right things and have began on a great note in this year's Indian T20 League. Two comprehensive victories and the Virat Kohli-led side is looking pretty dangerous already. The fact that they have done well with the bat in two contrasting outings would make them feel confident about their show under pressure. When the chips were down, Parthiv Patel came to their rescue against Mumbai and played some sensational counter-attacking cricket alongside T20 specialist AB de Villiers. When eyes were glued on Yuvraj Singh in their T20 League opener, he sent a strong message to his critics by smashing a quick-fire fifty. Though the captain was dismissed for a nought in his last game, only his second duck in the history of the tournament, you can hardly point fingers at him. Kohli justified his status as the top run-getter in the recently concluded T20 Championship with a sparkling knock in the first game. Form is never an issue with him these days as he has found the middle of the bat almost every single time he walked out to bat in the last 2 years.
Moving onto the bowling department, young leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has grabbed eyeballs with his impressive show in both the games so far, in an attack filled with pacers. In fact he was awarded the Man of the Match in the first match! Just when the form of Ashok Dinda, a man who is considered as a good death bowler, was concerning Kohli after his poor show in the first game, he delivered quality goods against Mumbai and was very economical. Mitchell Starc too was not just amongst the wickets, but was difficult to be put away in the second game. Varun Aaron's pace was quite impressive against Mumbai and on the whole, it's only fair to say that, given a seamer-friendly pitch, the Bangalore bowling attack is one to watch out for.
It's been a mixed bag for Gautam Gambhir's men so far in the tournament. Though they managed to win convincingly against Mumbai, they couldn't hold their nerve and lost a thriller to Delhi. Manish Pandey's form comes as a delight to the Kolkata management as he's looking good with over 100 runs in 2 games. However, the runs haven't been flowing off the skipper's blade and that is something that would be worrying the team. He's yet to open his account this year despite having faced 14 balls. Robin Uthappa's fifty went in vain in the last game, but the fact that he played a sensible knock tells that he's more matured as a batsman now and the Indian batting strength is looking alright in purple.'After scoring a well-compiled fifty in the first game, Jacques Kallis said, 'I am playing less cricket, so I can put my body on the line. I do not have too many years left, I just want to have some fun.' So it's quite clear that the South African all-rounder means business and he wants to make the most out of the opportunities in the tournament.
There's no doubt that Kolkata rely heavily on mystery spinner Sunil Narine. We saw how ineffective their bowling line-up was when Narine failed to deliver. The fact that Morne Morkel, to whom they look up to in crunch situations, was taken to the cleaners worsens things for the side. Vinay Kumar, who had a brilliant outing in the 2013-14 domestic season, did not justify his selection either. Though Shakib-Al-Hasan bowls quality left-arm off-spin, he has not managed to trouble the batsmen.
However, whenever Narine gets going, he puts oppositions under serious pressure, as was the case against Mumbai, and the entire bowling unit looks completely different. So Gambhir would hope for his trump card to put the right foot forward tonight.
The fitness of Chris Gayle has been an issue and the Bangalore team management have made it quite clear that they wouldn't want to risk him early in the tournament. So the big question is, will he take the field on Thursday? Reports though suggest that he will play the game as he has recovered from a stiff back. This means that Nic Maddinson, who hardly did anything in the first two games, could get the axe.
On the other, Kolkata, despite the loss in the previous game, are likely to remain unchanged as the side is well balanced.
There is absolutely nothing to separate the two sides. In their last 12 outings both have won 6 games each.
Chris Gayle needs 8 more runs to become the first man to get to 6000 runs in T20s.
On the whole, if both teams play to their potential we could witness an absolutely cracking contest.