It’s third taking on fourth when Bangalore battle Kolkata at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in the UAE on Wednesday.
Bangalore thrashed Kolkata by 82 runs in the reverse fixture between the two sides and the two-time champions will not only be gunning for third place but also for vengeance.
Here are the key stats ahead of the contest:
Will Narine be Kohli's and AB nightmare?
Good things happen to Bangalore when Virat Kohli and AB de Villers are in great form and it comes as no surprise that the team is cruising this season, as their two main men enjoy terrific individual campaigns.
Kohli and de Villiers' contribution is extremely crucial for Bangalore's success. The team have lost all three matches where both players have failed to score at least 50, while in their six victories, Kohli and de Villiers have combined to hit six half-centuries.
Stopping the duo is key for Kolkata and they may just have the perfect arsenal to combat these behemoths in all-rounder Sunil Narine.
In nine matches against the great West Indian, de Villiers has scored just 46 runs in 34 and been dismissed thrice. Kohli fairs even worse, with 99 runs in 94 balls with two dismissals in 12 outings against Narine. He may not always pick their wicket, but Narine certainly knows how to put the brakes on two of the greatest scorers in the sport's history, and that could induce an error against another bowler in that Kolkata bowling unit.
Kohli has been wary against spin this year, losing his wicket only once to a spinner as opposed to five against a pacer. However, his strike rate against spin is a measly 111.76 which balloons to 143.38 against pacers.
The duo may not throw their wicket against Narine, but the pressure he builds could certainly result in a mistake from Bangalore's main men.
Players to watch out
Kolkata – Lockie Ferguson
Sunil Narine's unavailability forced Kolkata into drafting Lockie Ferguson into the playing XI against Hyderabad and the decision proved to be a blessing in disguise. The Kiwi pacer bowled an incredible spell of 3-15 in his quota of four overs and then proceeded to pick two more scalps in the Super Over, finishing with incredible figures of 5-17 in 4.3 overs. Ferguson is likely to retain his spot in the team even upon the return of Narine on the back of this stellar show and the New Zealander could deal some serious damage in tandem with Pat Cummins in the Powerplay and at the death.
Bangalore – Chris Morris
All-rounder Chris Morris continues to be worth every penny of his hefty price tag, picking up nine wickets in four matches while batting at a ridiculous strike rate of 312. The veteran has been the difference-maker on the field as well, raking in three catches and inflicting a crucial run-out in Bangalore’s victory over Chennai. Bowling at an economy rate of just 5.25, Morris has been a game-changing addition to the Bangalore playing XI and the all-rounder will be keen on continuing his incredible form so far.
Stats to watch out for:
1: Virat Kohli needs just one six to become the fifth man to hit 200 maximums in the league. He could join Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma in achieving this feat.
3: Bangalore’s express speedster Navdeep Saini needs just three wickets to complete 50 scalps in T20s.
58: De Villiers needs 58 runs to become the eighth batsman overall and first South African to score 9000 runs in T20s.
66: Andre Russell needs 66 runs to become the fourth player to score 1500 runs for Kolkata. He could join Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa and Yusuf Pathan in achieving this feat.
300: This will be Eoin Morgan’s 300th T20 match. He will become the third Englishman after Ravi Bopara and Luke Wright to reach 300 appearances in T20s.
Kolkata have showcased immense grit this season in the winning the matches that they have. Bangalore, on the other hand, have looked composed and consistently delivered commendable performances on the field. There is not much to separate these two sides on the table, but Bangalore certainly are the favourites to win this contest.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Dibyangshu Sarkar