The ninth match of the IPL 2021 tournament between the blockbuster teams, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders, could all be about match-ups. Here, we take a look at a key game plan that could play a role in the ninth game of IPL 2021 – RCB vs KKR.
RCB vs KKR: Yuzvendra Chahal’s recent downfall
Since 2019, Chahal has conceded runs at an economy of 9 or more in six out of his last eight T20I series, having an economy of under 8 in just one series. Despite his downfall in the international arena, he enjoyed playing in the IPL in both seasons. However, the leg-spinner has started the IPL 2021 on a bad note, going wicketless in both games far.
Chahal bowled a bit slow in the last IPL. His average speed (84.58 kph) on the recorded balls was the lowest among the spinners who bowled at least 100 balls in the tournament. He has tried to increase his speed recently. In two of his three T20Is vs England, plenty of his deliveries were above the 90 kph mark. Chahal lowered his speed again in the third T20I but his fortunes didn’t change.
More than speeds, his control was an issue. The pitch maps, available on the official BCCI website, reveal that his bowling spots were really scattered. Chahal bowled quite a few short balls but he majorly struggled with his lines. Sometimes, they were wide outside off, sometimes outside the leg-stump line.
Chahal has shown decent control in both games of IPL 2021, at least against RHBs. His length has been mostly good-length and the line has been tight as well. His economy of 7.77 against RHBs is also OK, considering a bad game vs MI and he operated in the powerplay.
However, Chahal hasn’t been good against southpaws. 7 out of his 14 balls have been in the wide outside of offside or legside stump line and he hasn’t attempted a googly as well. It’s a very low sample size but Chahal should ensure that it doesn’t happen against KKR batsmen.
Chahal has been able to contain all KKR batsmen barring Andre Russell and Shakib Al Hasan. The pitch is expected to provide a fair bit of turn at Chepauk and Chahal should have a good game.
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Despite his improvement against leg-spinners last year, Nitish Rana won’t have it easy tomorrow, due to Chahal’s quality and the deck. Shubman Gill is a fine player of spin bowling, who seems to read the spinners from the hands. Chahal’s shrewdness should help him in outfoxing the youngster, especially if Gill looks to attack.
Rahul Tripathi’s IPL record against away-turning spinners is poor – average: 18.15 and strike rate: 122.28. His record against Chahal isn’t very inspiring as well. The same is the case with Eoin Morgan who doesn’t look at home against spinners on the turning decks of the subcontinent.
Dinesh Karthik is unlikely to face Chahal but even if he does, the latter is expected to have an upper hand.
Russell is unlikely to face Chahal and the leg-spinner would hope he doesn’t. But, even if he does, in the non-death-overs, Chahal might trap him on the sluggish Chepauk track.
Shakib has enjoyed batting against Chahal, however, the southpaw’s record against leg-spinners in T20s, T20Is and IPL are poor. In case KKR promote Shakib, Chahal could opt to be purely defensive and Sundar should look to trap the Bangladeshi all-rounder.
RCB vs KKR: Can Varun’s variations fall in place?
The mystery is always exciting and so was Varun Chakravarthy. He received a whopping bid of over 8 crores in 2018 for KXIP. However, 2020 was his breakthrough while playing for KKR. While the seasoned spinners weren’t up to the mark, Varun stood tall for his side.
Varun also received his maiden call-up for the Indian side but fitness issues have kept him out of the action.
A Cricbuzz report also revealed that Varun befuddled senior Indian batsmen in the net sessions before the Australian tour.
Varun has played just two games this season so far but it seems he has struggled a bit with his control. Also, with his breakthrough seasons, the teams would plan better for him. Plenty of video analysis is available to the teams and they exploit it well – e.g. a comparison of his actions while bowling a googly and a carrom ball.
He had a poor outing against SRH and despite his good game against Mumbai Indians, his pitch map doesn’t inspire enough confidence.
T20 indeed rewards unpredictability, however, the pitch map seems very scattered. It’s arguable whether MI batsmen could have played him better. His shrewd usage by KKR is also admirable – he bowled just one ball to LHB and didn’t have to face the LHB-RHB combo.
Varun might look to lower his speed. Just six of his balls have been of under 90 kph this season. High speed with good control is a luxury in T20s, however, deliveries with decent speed on Chepauk-like surfaces should work.
Googlies were Varun’s main weapon against LHBs in the last season, and it should help him against RCB as well. Shahbaz Ahmed is an inexperienced batsman, Padikkal isn’t very safe against away-turners and Washington is unlikely to be promoted.
The likes of Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers should also struggle against googlies. Virat Kohli’s returns against googlies improved in 2020, however, eye analysis suggests that he is still susceptible, especially while defending when he misjudges the ball. Varun induced a false shot percentage of over 22% while bowling googlies against RHBs in the last season!
Varun was also pretty successful with his carrom balls and faster ones against right-handed batsmen. It’s tough to pick a bowler with plenty of variations and RCB’s recent struggles against spinners are well-documented! Thus, KKR would hope that he gets a good rhythm.
The good form of the Indian spinners is very important for the Indian side as well. Suddenly, the race for those spots is wide open and the Indian fans would want their best bets to be back at their best for the upcoming T20 World Cup.