The 43rd match in the Indian Premier League (IPL) will be contested between hosts Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) which is a must-win game for both if they want to make it to the playoffs. KKR is placed sixth with eight points while RR is bottom-placed with six points from 10 outings.
Both teams come into this game on the back of chastening losses. KKR was humbled by the Sunrisers Hyderabad, losing by nine wickets with 30 balls to spare. The Knight Riders had no answer to Jonny Bairstow, who smashed 80 runs off 43 balls and shared an eventual match-winning partnership of 131 with David Warner.
KKR’s bowling attack was toothless and expensive, failing to make any breakthroughs or contain the swashbuckling SRH openers.
Rajasthan would also be facing similar concerns. Ajinkya Rahane carried his bat through the innings, scoring his second T20 century in the process.
However, with no significant contributions from most of his teammates, barring captain Steve Smith, Rajasthan’s eventual total of 191 was not enough to save them from their seventh defeat of the season. They now face an uphill battle to climb into the top half of the table, with no chance for any slips.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Over the course of this season, KKR has started to show shades of the teams of 2008 and 2010; plenty of early promise but an eventual below-par finish.
KKR has to quickly find the form that led them to titles in 2012 and 2014. Is it too late though? A KKR win would see them tied for fourth place with KXIP and SRH, but with the lowest run rate among the three.
The team needs to keep an eye on the net run rate (NRR) as well. In such a tight season, it could mean the difference between a playoff spot and an early break for all the players bound for the World Cup.
The Knight Rider’s batting has often made up for their bowlers. Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine and Nitish Rana have made useful contributions while Andre Russell has been exceptional with his power-hitting throughout the tournament.
On Sunday, the team found out what happens when the batting posts a below-par score. KKR’s close wins were a reflection of their batting might than the threat posed by their bowlers.
Prasidh Krishna and company have failed to contain the opposition, increasing the pressure on the batting. As for the batting line-up, where should Russell bat?
The man has himself indicated that he would be open to batting at No. 4 while the team seems to see him as more of a lower-order muscle player.
Chris Lynn has scored 264 runs with the highest score of 82 but hasn’t been consistent across the season. Sunil Narine has played exactly as expected. He’s provided with an occasional, explosive start or has gotten out cheaply to allow the more established batsmen time to build the innings.
KKR needs more from Shubham Gill and Robin Uthappa if they are to score heavily and improve their NRR.
Ajinkya Rahane scored his second T20 century against Delhi Capitals. The next highest scorer was Steve Smith who scored 50 in a 135-run partnership with Rahane.
When the two batsmen were at the crease, a score in excess of 200 seemed a possibility. However, after Smith got out, the other batsman faltered. Rahane tried to bring back the momentum with some high percentage shots.
However, he found limited support from Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes and Ashton Turner. Rajasthan needs more from their Indian batsmen; Samson and Stuart Binny need to provide more support to Rahane.
The former RR captain himself needs to carry on the momentum from the previous match while hoping his bowlers can contain the big hitters in the KKR side.
Dhawal Kulkarni and Jaydev Unadkat need to provide more support to Shreyas Gopal and Jofra Archer. Between them, they’ve taken 33 wickets this season and continue to be the strike bowlers for the team.
The Royals, however, do not seem to have a plan B when one of them has an off night. Could this come back to haunt them? As for the Knight Riders, an under par bowling attack puts tremendous pressure on the batting side.
A win for Rajasthan would mean that they'll be tied with KKR with eight points from the same number of games. Both the teams are desperate for a win as a playoffs spot is at stake.
Head to Head:20
KKR:10 RR: 9 No Result: 1
Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Shubham Gill, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (C and wk), Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Harry Gurney and Prithvi Raj Yarra.
Rajasthan Royals: Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson (wk), Steve Smith (C), Ben Stokes, Liam Livingstone, Stuart Binny, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat, Dhawal Kulkarni, and Riyan Parag.
(Featured Image: FB/KKR)
About the Author
Vishnu Rao is a freelance writer and a content creator based in Bengaluru. He loves sports with a passion and is currently dreaming of authoring a book on Wrestling