AB de Villiers was excluded from Royal Challengers Bangalore’s side due to a viral fever in what is a crucial game for them against Kolkata Knight Riders in Bengaluru. Dinesh Karthik, Knight Riders’ captain, chose to bowl first, given the level of difficulty with defending targets at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Royal Challengers made four changes after their loss to Chennai Super Kings. Tim Southee was brought in to bolster their death-bowling resources. Batsmen Brendon McCullum and Manan Vohra and legspinner M Ashwin, playing his first game this season, were also included. Washington Sundar, Pawan Negi, de Villiers and Corey Anderson were left out. De Villiers was Royal Challengers’ highest run-scorer this season so far.

“We wanted to bowl first too because it’s a difficult ground to defend,” Royal Challengers captain Virat Kohli said. “Not a bad toss to lose actually, it looks better than I thought. Our bowlers have put it [losing to CSK] behind us.”

Knight Riders made no changes to the side that was comprehensively beaten by Delhi Daredevils in their previous game.

An interesting second half of the season could be at stake. If Royal Challengers win, both teams will have three wins in seven games. If Knight Riders continue the trend of successful chases at this ground, a clear gulf between the top and bottom half could start to form.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Manan Vohra, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Brendon McCullum, 5 Mandeep Singh, 6 Colin de Grandhomme, 7 M Ashwin, 8 Tim Southee, 9 Mohammed Siraj, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal

Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Chris Lynn, 2 Sunil Narine, 3 Robin Uthappa, 4 Nitish Rana, 5 Dinesh Karthik (capt, wk), 6 Andre Russell, 7 Shubman Gill, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Kuldeep Yadav, 11 Shivam Mavi

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