IPL 2019: Misfiring Hetmyer in the spotlight as RCB look to reignite campaign vs KKR

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Hetmyer is having a maiden IPL to forget. Image - BCCI/SPORTZPICS.

The walls are already closing in on Royal Challengers Bangalore as they get ready to take on Kolkata Knight Riders in the fifth match of their 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign on Friday.

Virat Kohli and his men have tasted defeats in all four games so far with the latest of them coming against Rajasthan Royals. Bangalore’s star-studded line up including South African ace AB de Villiers has once again failed to deliver the goods with Kohli struggling to get the right team combination.

Following the seven-wicket loss to Rajasthan, the Royal Challengers skipper hinted at changes in personnel going forward and one man on whom the axe could fall is Shimron Hetmyer.

HETMYER’S STRUGGLES

The 22-year-old explosive West Indies batsman was snapped up by Bangalore for a hefty sum in the IPL auction but his maiden campaign has been anything but a success. The left-hander has been dismissed for single-digit scores in each of his four appearances and has looked at sea against both spin and pace.

Having come in with a fast-developing reputation as a destructive limited-overs batsman, Hetmyer’s scratchy form at the top of the order has cost Bangalore dear.

Hetmyer’s struggles in the IPL have been in stark contrast to the wave of destruction his West Indies counterpart Andre Russell has caused with both bat and ball. The Kolkata Knight Riders’ all-rounder has been the driving force behind the franchise’s strong start to their 2019 campaign and single-handedly won them two matches.

Russell is in red-hot form. Image credit - Sportzpics/BCCI.

Russell is in red-hot form. Image credit – Sportzpics/BCCI.

Russell’s 159 runs so far have come at an astonishing strike-rate of over 248 while he has also chipped in with five crucial wickets. The Windies’ all-rounder’s ability to clear the fence at will in the death overs has bailed Kolkata out of trouble multiple times already with the team currently scoring at over 14 runs an over between overs 16 and 20.

However, even Russell’s extraordinary hitting abilities were unable to prevent a defeat for Kolkata in their most recent clash with Delhi Capitals prevailing by three runs via a super over. Russell’s sensational form has masked several issues for Dinesh Karthik and his men including the repeated failure of Chris Lynn at the top.

The Australian opener has managed just the 33 runs from his three innings and his cheap dismissals have added pressure on the middle-order.

KUL-CHA WRIST-SPIN BATTLE

While Hetmyer and Lynn are in the firing line for their respective sides, another intriguing subplot of Friday’s clash will be the battle between India’s first-choice wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.

It has been Bangalore’s Chahal who has been the spinner to watch so far with the leg-spinner picking up eight wickets in his four matches while maintaining an economy-rate below seven runs an over. On the other hand, Kuldeep has not looked at his best with the Kolkata wrist-spinner picking up just two wickets in three appearances.

The pitch at the Chinnaswamy stadium affords spinners no room for errors and how Chahal and Kuldeep go for their respective side could have a big bearing on the result.

TEAM NEWS

Sunil Narine missed out on Kolkata’s clash with Delhi Capitals due to an injury and it remains to be seen if the West Indies all-rounder has recovered in time for the Bengaluru showdown.

LIKELY XIs

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Parthiv Patel, Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Washington Sundar, Marcus Stoinis, Akshdeep Nath (wk), Shivam Dube, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Tim Southee, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal.

Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Lynn/Carlos Brathwaite, Nikhil Naik, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (c and wk), Andre Russell, Shubman Gill, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson.

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