Kolkata Knight Riders’ advantage slips against Bangalore Royal Challengers in DLF IPL Twenty20 first match
Former India skippers Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid to lead the teams
Bangalore Royal Challengers take on Kolkata Knight Riders in the inaugural DLF IPL Twenty20 tournament’s opening match in Bangalore on April 18, the clash will be between two former India skippers and two flamboyant personalities also — Rahul Dravd captains Bangalore Royal challengers promoted by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, while Sourav Ganguly is the skipper of Kolkata Knight Riders, promoted by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.
Pointer: At least on paper, the Kolkata Knight Riders are seen as having an advantage, partly due to the mix of the opposition team.
Bangalore Royal Challengers
The Bangalore Royal Challengers are seen more as a bunch of solid batsmen in the mould of skipper Rahul Dravid, with sound technique, but are not known as big hitters, with the exception of Jacques Kallis and Misabah-Ul-haq, their late catch, bagged in the second auction for $125,000. For starters, the big hitting Pakistani had almost snatched the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup trophy from the Indian Team in South Africa.
Jacques Kallis has played three international matches in Twenty20, scoring just 39 runs, but his strike rate, which counts most in this version of the game, is an astounding 108.33 — that means if Jacques Kallis can stay put in 3-4 overs in the crease, the opposition in in trouble. The other South African in the pack, Mark Boucher has played 9 matches, but his strike rate is a shade less at 89.93. But Boucher makes up for that by doubling as the man behind the stumps.
Skipper Rahul Dravid does not even figure in India’s Twenty20 squad, but the Indian batting mainstay is the only Indian apart from Sachin Tendulkar to have scored 10,000 runs in both Tests and ODIs — the message is that experience counts.
Rahul Dravid scored 1761 in calendar year 1999. That is the third highest by a batsman in a calendar year after Sachin Tendulkar (1894 runs in 1998) and Sourav Ganguly ( 1767 in 1999).
Rahul Dravid has an astonishing career ODI record — 329 matches, 304 innings, 39 not outs and 10,464 runs, with a highest score of 153, an average of 39.48 and a strike rate of 71.16. Twelve hundreds and 80 half centuries have been recorded in his name.
Pakistan’s latest find Misbah-ul-haq,31, has played only 27 ODIs for his country and scored 727 runs at an average of 36.35 with a strike rate of 77.84, figures which mask his utility as a match winner.
But when it comes to the nine matches he has played in Twenty20, his average shoots up to 50.20, scoring 251 runs. The key, however, is his phenomenal strike rate of 127.41, a pointer to the fact that this Pakistani can turnaround matches.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Sourav Ganguly’s Kolkata Knight Riders’ definite advantage is their explosive batting line-up starting from icon player Sourav himself. Sourav Ganguly, like Dravid, is not part of Indian twenty20 and is a former ODI skipper. In M S Dhoni’s scheme of things, Ganguly does not figure much, and hence been ignored from ODI and twenty20 versions of the national squad.
But Sourav Ganguly is among India’s most successful captains. In the 302 ODI matches he has played for the country, the Bengal southpaw has scored 11046 runs, which includes 22 hundreds and seventy half-centuries. His strike rate is 73.60, a tad better than rival Rahul Dravid. Sourav Ganguly can also chip in as a change bowler – he has taken 99 wickets in ODIs at an average of 37.65.
Kolkata Knight Riders have two formidable explosive bats in West Indian Chris Gayle and Australian skipper Ricky Ponting. Christopher Henry Gayle is another batsman who can just shatter any bowling attack and also do a bit of bowling.
In 173 ODI matches Chris Gayle has revelled with the willow, his average is just below 50 but his strike rate is a phenomenal 80.16. The point to note, however, is his Twenty20 strike rate, which is a hundred percent jump – 164.96 in five matches in which he scored 193 runs, including a Twenty20 best 127.
Punter Ricky Ponting is among the most hated figures as far as Indian cricket fans are concerned but his record as a player is par excellence. Ricky Thomas Ponting has scored 11,096 runs in 297 ODIs, and is just 24 short of the 10,000 mark in Tests. Ponting’s strike rate is exactly 50 in ODIs, which jumps to 138.16 in Twenty20. But Ponting hasn’t been that successful in Twenty20, scoring just 98 runs in ten matches. But his massive utility would be as a scheming and thinking cricketer, which Sourav Ganguly should be able to exploit.
With former Aussie coach John Buchanan donning the role of Kolkata Knight Riders’ coach, it is a sure bet that Kolkata Knight Riders would have five strategies lined up for the match, but New Zealander Martin Crowe would not be found wanting in strategic pitches for Bangalore Knight Riders.
Key players, issues and forecast
South African pace sensation Dale Steyn, who was instrumental in handing India a drubbing in the Ahmedabad Test, would be the key bowler in the match as Kolkata Knight Riders Shoaib Akhtar is unlikely to be included in the Kolkata Team following as ban imposed by Pakistan Cricket Board.
Steyn’s menacing pace and nagging line would be difficult to tackle for Kolkata Knight Riders. He would be ably backed by Indian test skipper Anil Kumble. The key for Sourav Ganguly would be to come down the order and display his prowess to throw spinners out of gear and safeguard himself from Steyn’s promised chin music. Gayle and Ponting should be left to tackle Steyn and create some chaos in Bangalore Royal Challengers famed bowling attack, which also has stingy Aussie bowler Nathan Bracken.
Kolkata Knight Riders’ another issue is that Ricky Ponting would be available only for two weeks as he has to report to the Australian training camp by the first week of May, but that wouldn’t be an issue in the first match against Bangalore Royal Challengers. Indian pace sensation Ishant Sharma can be a dangerous bowler to tackle for Bangalore Royal Challengers. Despite being a quality Twenty20 side, Kolkata Knight Riders have now only a slight edge in the initial match against Bangalore Royal Challengers on April 18. Chances of a win for Kolkata Knight Riders against Bangalore Royal Challengers are 51:49 and the margin of error in a Twenty20 match is anybody’s guess.