A win tomorrow night for the Rajasthan Royals would see them surpass the Kolkata Knight Riders on the IPL points table, but the purple & gold are playing some inspired cricket at the moment driven by the likes of West Indian dynamic-duo Sunil Narine and Andre Russell who have been electric for the Knight Riders.
If the Royals keep playing this brand of cricket, they’ll no-doubt feature as hot prospects in this seasons IPL playoffs late next month. With star-quick Jofra Archer on the verge of making his IPL debut for Rajasthan as soon as tomorrow night, they look set to improve on what has already been an impressive start to their 2018 campaign. Who knows where they’d be without ex-Daredevils batting young gun Sanju Samson who has made an instant impact in the Royals comeback season to the franchise. Just recently elevated to No. 3 (where he should have been in the first place), Samson destroyed Kohli’s Royal Challengers as he sent ten sixes plummeting over the rope in his unbeaten 92 from 45 deliveries, he was seeing them that well Bangalore failed to dismiss the 23-year-old after almost 15 overs out in the middle. Samson has amassed a total of 178 runs from his three IPL outings in 2018 with a strike rate of 163.30. With Sanju being the standout target for Kolkata, they’ll have to try and restrict Ajinkya Rahane’s influence at the top as well, he can accumulate runs without opposition teams noticing his score tick over compared to a Samson or Stokes. It might be time to drop Ben Stokes a tad lower in the order, he’s averaging just 16 from his three games batting in the top four and isn’t contributing a lot with the ball either, averaging a mediocre-53. We could see a new-look Royals bowling attack soon, purely because the current one has had very-little impact so far. Dhawal Kulkarni is yet to take a wicket in the tournament, while Krishnappa Gowtham and Jaydev Unadkat have struggled to string together wickets, particularly Unadkat who was super-impressive last season taking 24 wickets. This is one of those matches that has all the makings to be a last-ball thriller, both teams will be hoping for a less dramatic finish though unlike the spectators!
After a slowish start to IPL 11, Kolkata look set to break the shackles and really give some teams grief in the remainder of the tournament. Unlike years gone by, the Knight Riders have shared the workload between themselves in the batting department which seems to have created a more stress-free environment when it comes to maintaining the same structure every match. Skipper Dinesh Karthik has played his role as the anchor in the middle order along with Chris Lynn who is averaging 26.75 as an opening batsman as he continues to elevate his scoring output game-by-game. Robin Uthappa has chipped in with a couple handy scores at No. 3, and just recently Nitish Rana notched up his first fifty of the tournament against the Daredevils. Let’s not forget Sunil Narine’s pinch hitting alongside Lynn at the top of the order, but the man that has stunned the competition yet again has been all-rounder Andre Russell. Who would have thought someone could have matched Chris Lynn in the six-hitting department? Well the West Indian entertainment machine has hands down been the most eye-catching batsman of the tournament so far, he’s produced two of the most explosive innings in IPL 11 featuring 88 off just 36 balls against Chennai, and just recently 41 off 12 deliveries against Delhi, and half of those balls went for six! They’ve got the batting covered, but they’re doing a brilliant job with the ball as well thanks to Sunil Narine who looks to be getting back to his best as the sultan of spin. Breaking down Narine’s tournament so far, he’s going for just 5.46 runs an over and has claimed seven scalps striking at 12.85 with the ball. Kuldeep Yadav finally registered his handful of wickets he was after against Delhi, albeit a tad expensive but finished with the three wickets including both Rishabh Pant and Glenn Maxwell at crucial stages in the game. The Knight Riders spin-duo will continue to play a key role for them in IPL 11.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Rajasthan Royals | 15th match | Jaipur
- Sanju Samson
- Ajinkya Rahane
- Jos Buttler
- Ben Stokes
- Jofra Archer
Wildcard pick – Heinrich Klaasen
Top 5 fantasy picks | Kolkata Knight Riders | 15th match | Jaipur
- Sunil Narine
- Chris Lynn
- Dinesh Karthik
- Nitish Rana
- Andre Russell
Wildcard pick – Piyush Chawla
Having scored just 21 runs in three matches for the Royals, promising-Aussie power-hitter D’Arcy Short may struggle to hold his spot against the Knight Riders. Heinrich Klaasen who featured in South Africa’s ODI & T20I side against India is a good chance to make his IPL debut for Rajasthan at the expense of Short. There’s a rumour that Jofra Archer is ready to go, if that’s the case Ben Laughlin will be the man making way for the bowling phenomenon who is set to take the IPL by storm in 2018. Other small changes to the side (particularly in the bowling attack) are a possibility as well, Stuart Binny and Anureet Singh are still awaiting their opportunities.
Kolkata Knight Riders
The Knight Riders top six in the batting order looks set in stone, anything below that can be expected to change given how they’ve managed the lower order and bowling attack. Shubman Gill replaced Rinku Singh a couple games ago, and to be brutally honest they’ve both been as disappointing as each other. They might choose to rotate them again in that No. 7 position along with Mitchell Johnson and Tom Curran who seem to be getting one-game stints in-place of each other. That would suggest that Johnson could effectively replace Curran for the upcoming clash with Rajasthan.
Rajasthan Royals (possible) – 1. Ajinkya Rahane © 2. Jos Buttler (wk) 3. Sanju Samson 4. Heinrich Klaasen 5. Ben Stokes 6. Rahul Tripathi 7. Krishnappa Gowtham 8. Shreyas Gopal 9. Jofra Archer/Ben Laughlin 10. Dhawal Kulkarni/Anureet Singh 11. Jaydev Unadkat.
Kolkata Knight Riders (possible) – 1. Sunil Narine 2. Chris Lynn 3. Robin Uthappa 4. Nitish Rana 5. Dinesh Karthik (c & wk) 6. Andre Russell 7. Shubman Gill/Rinku Singh 8. Piyush Chawla 9. Tom Curran/Mitchell Johnson 10. Shivam Mavi 11. Kuldeep Yadav.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.