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Post DK-boost, KKR aim to push RCB to brink
Kolkata, April 18 (IANS) Rejuvenated by a World Cup call-up, Dinesh Karthik would be eager to impress India captain Virat Kohli and also arrest the Kolkata Knight Riders' three game losing streak, when they lock horns with Royal Challengers Bangalore in an Indian Premier League clash here on Friday.
It won't be easy for KKR with Andre Russell doubtful for the RCB game after injuring his left shoulder during practice at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday.
Russell, who is KKR's leading run-getter and main hope, was hit by a bouncer from a net bowler during training and was seen writhing in pain as the support staff rushed to the ground.
It is the same left shoulder where Russell was hit by a Harshal Patel delivery during KKR's match against Delhi Capitals at the Kotla.
Although team sources said, there was no major fracture or dislocation, it remains to be seen whether the big-hitting West Indies all-rounder is fit for Friday's clash.
In their first-leg clash in Bengaluru, Russell made all the difference with a whirlwind 13-ball 48 to drag KKR out of the woods and guide them to a remarkable five-wicket win.
While Russell's availability is a big concern for the home side who have not won in their last three matches, and placed sixth in the points table, there would be no shortage of inspiration for 33-year old Karthik who got the nod ahead of Rishabh Pant in the 15-member World Cup contingent.
"It's a dream come true for me," Karthik had said after the selection on Monday. The veteran stumper-batsman hasn't been among runs so far but would look to deliver against RCB and more importantly, in front of Kohli.
Kohli has his own problems as far as RCB is concerned with the team all but out of the competition if they lose on Friday. Rock-bottom in the table with just one win from eight matches, RCB just haven't been in the groove this year. From the remaining six games, they would have to win all to give themselves any chance of a playoff berth.
Kohli has also not led from the front, cutting a forlorn figure on the field more often than not and also failing to fire with the bat.
The team's main problem has been their bowling which has been poor to say the least, except for Yuzvendra Chahal. In KKR, they would face an opponent hungry to return to winning ways after losing back-to-back home games.
If Russell does not play, in-form Chris Lynn would have to step up along with the likes of Karthik, Nitish Rana and Robin Uthappa.
For the visitors, Kohli would want AB de Villiers and Moeen Ali to continue their good form besides him getting back among runs.
The Eden track has been a batting paradise and Kohli would also hope his floundering bowling battery get their act right, with experienced South Africa pacer Dale Steyn now also roped in as replacement to Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (captain), Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Joe Denly, Lockie Ferguson, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Harry Gurnley, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Nitish Rana, Sandeep Warrier, KC Cariappa, Shubman Gill, Rinku Singh, Shrikant Mundhe, Nikhil Naik, Anrich Nortje, Prithvi Raj, Prasidh Krishna.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), Parthiv Patel (wk), AB de Villiers, Colin de Grandhomme, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Moeen Ali, Shimron Hetmyer, Shivam Dube, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Devdutt Padikkal, Himmat Singh, Milind Kumar, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Heinrich Klaasen, Pawan Negi, Washington Sundar, Akshdeep Nath, Prayas Barman, Kulwant Khejroliya, Tim Southee, Dale Steyn
(Debayan Mukherjee can be contacted at [email protected])