After a torrid first-half of IPL 2021, a change in captaincy and several issues, the Kolkata Knight Riders scripted one of the best comebacks in the history of the tournament to eventually qualify for the IPL 2021 Playoffs. The UAE leg proved to be a happy hunting ground for Eoin Morgan and Co. as they racked up one victory after another to outlast Mumbai Indians in the battle for the fourth and final Playoff spot.
But their job isn't done yet. In fact, they need to continue putting in the hard yards as they face a confident Royal Challengers Bangalore unit who, just like them, head into the Eliminator on the back of a win. Morgan made one tactical change for their last group stage game against the Rajasthan Royals but for this all-important clash, he could stick to the same side. Let's try and work out why.
Here is a look at KKR's Predicted XI vs RCB:
1 Shubman Gill: He began the UAE leg on a lukewarm note but heads into the Eliminator on the back of two consecutive half-centuries. Both of them came in a winning cause and his return to form is proving to be a huge plus for the two-time champions. So far this season, he has scored 352 runs.
2 Venkatesh Iyer: The swashbuckling southpaw, in just 7 matches, has smoked the opposition bowlers around to rack up 239 runs at a strike-rate of 129.18. He has been an important part of the side in the second half of the season and along with Gill, he holds key at the top of KKR.
3 Nitish Rana: His exploits have also brought about a lot of success for the franchise. After all, he is the side's third-highest run-getter so far with 347 runs in 14 games. Rana is a player of importance in KKR's middle-order.
4 Rahul Tripathi: Talking about players of importance in KKR's middle-order brings up to someone whose performances are often swept under the rug. With 377 runs so far, he has been KKR's best batsman and unfortunately, he is very underrated. But his numbers of speak for themselves and also bear testament to KKR's decision of placing their trust him in through thick and thin.
5 Dinesh Karthik: 12-ball 18* and 11-ball 14*. These are Karthik's two previous scores and the picture they paint suggests that the wicketkeeper-batsman is slowly rediscovering his mojo of playing the finisher's role in the shortest format.
6 Eoin Morgan: The skipper is having a torrid season with the bat but he will draw confidence from the fact that his side are in the Playoffs are reeling in the bottom half of the table in the first leg of the season. Once he gets going, not many bowlers in the world can do anything about it.
7 Sunil Narine: Narine, from time to time, keeps proving why KKR continue to back him despite poor form. While his picking up wickets and stemming the opposition's run-flow is his forte, Narine is a superb striker of the ball as well.
8 Shakib Al Hasan: The Bangladesh all-rounder has only played a couple of matches in the UAE but has been very impressive with the ball and the field. Morgan would want Shakib to continue in the same vein.
9 Lockie Ferguson: With 10 wickets in 8 matches, including three in the previous game against RR, the New Zealand pacer has been a vital cog in that KKR pace attack.
10 Varun Chakravarthy: With 16 scalps so far, the Tamil Nadu spinner has been the franchise's most consistent bowler so far. The whole team would hope to see another tight, yet successful, spell from Varun.
11 Shivam Mavi: The RCB batsmen will need to take extra precautions to protect their stumps today. After all, this young Indian bowler wreaked havoc against RR by disturbing the batsmen of three batsmen en route to his four-wicket haul. Along with Lockie, Mavi holds key in the KKR pace battery.
Our KKR's Predicted XI vs RCB: Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Dinesh Karthik, Eoin Morgan, Sunil Narine, Shakib Al Hasan, Lockie Ferguson, Varun Chakravarthy, Shivam Mavi