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In-form Bangalore and Kolkata look to strengthen hold on top four

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Two of the current top four will collide on Monday, as third-placed Kolkata will take on fourth-placed Bangalore, with both teams looking to close the gap on Mumbai and Delhi.

Bangalore and Kolkata have had a good run of results recently with both winning three out of their last four matches.

Here are the key facts you need to know ahead of this big match:

Morris’ majestic record against Karthik

After missing the first five games of the season, Bangalore’s big auction acquisition, South African all-rounder Chris Morris made his debut for the team in their last match against Chennai and immediately showcased why the team shelled out the cash for his services.

While he did not get the opportunity to bat, Morris bowled a terrific spell of 3-19 in his four overs, the best by any player on either side. He also ran out Narayan Jagadeesan, breaking a crucial partnership from Chennai’s perspective.

Kolkata skipper Dinesh Karthik too had a great outing in his last match, scoring a match-winning 58 runs off 29 balls, ending his dry spell with the bat. He will be hoping to build on this innings, but also be wary of the threat that Morris presents.

Karthik has scored just 30 runs in 27 balls against Morris and the South African all-rounder has dismissed him thrice. It would be intriguing to see how Karthik tackles Morris during this contest.

Players to watch out

Bangalore – Virat Kohli

The leading run-scorer in Indian T20 League history, Virat Kohli started the season in uncharacteristic fashion but has turned his form around and been in sublime touch in his last three matches. He scored 72 off 53 balls in Bangalore’s victory over Rajasthan and was Bangalore’s lone warrior with the bat in their defeat against Delhi, scoring 43. He hit a match-winning 90 off 52 against Chennai, throwing his hat in the race for the Orange Cap. Kohli's good form is extremely crucial for Bangalore and it is important that he continues in the same vein for his side.

Kolkata – Sunil Narine

While he may not be in great form with the ball, West Indian all-rounder Sunil Narine is back to his best with the ball and has been terrific of late for Kolkata. The 32-year-old has picked three wickets in his last two matches and been particularly great at the death for his side. Narine, though, was reported for suspect action and while it’s just a warning and he will be eligible for this match, it will be intriguing to see if the West Indian can continue being effective.

Stats to watch out

1: West Indian all-rounder Andre Russell is just one wicket away from becoming the 10th player to pick 300 wickets in T20s. Australia pacer Pat Cummins also needs just one more wicket to complete 100 scalps in T20s.

3: Opener Shubman Gill needs just three runs to complete 1,000 runs in T20s. He has scored 719 runs in the Indian T20 League for Kolkata.

26: Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli needs 26 runs to become the fourth man to score 700 runs against Kolkata.

53.83: Andre Russell has an incredible average of 53.83 against Bangalore, his highest against any team in the league.

Writer’s pick

Bangalore have finally found the right combination and are in terrific nick from top to bottom. Kolkata are in good form but will consider themselves a tad lucky to emerge victorious in their last two matches after monumental collapses from Chennai and Punjab. Bangalore have been more convincing of the two sides and hence, we pick them to win the title.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Dibyangshu Sarkar

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