The Indian Premier League campaign continues on Monday and as teams are hitting the double figure mark for matches played every game is beginning to take on a bit of extra significance. That is certainly the case for the Kolkata Knight Riders when they take on the Rajasthan Royals.
These two teams meet at the Wankhede Stadium with Kolkata sat in eighth place in the table while the Royals are much better placed in third. You get the feeling this is a pivotal game for the beaten finalists of last season.
Kolkata Knight Riders
The Kolkata Knight Riders would have gone into this season determined to go one better than they did last term but actually when you think about it their campaign has gone exactly how the Indian leg of last year did. They were very poor in the India part of last season but when they got to the UAE they found something and flourished. They need to tell themselves they are back in the UAE because with just three wins from nine matches you would think they will have to win out from here in order to make the play-offs.
The Knight Riders were looking in a good spot when they won three of their opening four matches but they go into this encounter off the back of five defeats in succession and in truth it is hard to argue that they have been competitive in any of them. There have been signs that their bowlers are getting it together again but their top order just can’t seem to buy a decent platform for the likes of Andre Russell to pounce on. If they are going to stay alive for this season they have to score some runs in the powerplay.
The Rajasthan Royals were surprise losers to the Mumbai Indians over the weekend but someone was always going to draw the short straw and be the team to lose to Mumbai who could play with freedom from here on in. It happened to be them but they weren’t disgraced or anything like that. It was probably the first time this season that their batters were not able to impose themselves on the opposing bowlers but there is no reason to suggest that will happen again here.
The Royals bowlers bowled fairly well against the Indians when you consider the fearful nature of the Mumbai line up even though it hadn’t been performing prior to that. As long as the Rajasthan batters can get back to doing what they do then there is nothing to suggest they can’t win this. One concern is that Daryl Mitchell has twice come in and slowed the scoring rate down so that might be something they need to look at.
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When these two met in the reverse fixture Sunil Narine had taken 2/21 from his four overs but after being sent up to open was run out without facing a ball. If Kolkata can find a place where he can make an impact with the bat as well as the ball it would massively help them.
Jos Buttler blitzed a ton in that match and given that he continues to lead the way in the orange cap standings he is obviously the key man for the Rajasthan Royals. If he can get himself in and start to get going he can win this match almost on his own.
I’ve said all season long that the Wankhede Stadium is a high scoring ground and although it took a while for that premonition to come true it has reverted to type in recent times and I expect a fairly high scoring match here too. Eight of the last nine first innings on this ground have been 165 or above and five of those have been more than 185 so my suspicion is that the 321.5 run line for this match is on the low side. That is especially the case when you consider they both hit 200 in the reverse meeting between the two, albeit at Brabourne Stadium rather than here.
I don’t think the Kolkata Knight Riders are going to exit this competition without a fight. If they are going to go down they’ll go down swinging and the situation might force those batters who are out of form to come good. Even if they don’t they will only need Nitish Rana or Andre Russell to fire down the order and a couple of players to hang with them to get up to 160. We know Rajasthan are scoring bundles or runs so I’m happy to take the over here.
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