Match 53 – Rajasthan Royals V Royal Challengers Bangalore
It’s becoming a real scrap for the final two spots up for grabs in the top four, four teams still remain in contention with six wins apiece with four heart pumping games left to decide each teams fate in IPL 11. The first match of tomorrows IPL doubleheader is probably the most intriguing one, the winner out of the Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore will advance to the top four and remain in playoffs contention, the loser however will be eliminated from the tournament. It’s a fine line between pleasure and pain, and something tells me RCB will come out on top in what has been a sensational fight back to stay alive in the comp for as long as they have.
The Royals had a golden opportunity to cement their spot in the IPL’s top four against the Knight Riders, instead they were comprehensively beaten by six wickets & are now forced to battle it out with a hot to trot RCB who are staging one of the greatest IPL comebacks of all time. The positive is they’re playing on their home deck at Jaipur, the negative however is that AB de Villiers looks in ominous form with the willow after smoking 72 not out and 69 in his past two innings. English all-rounder Ben Stokes has been in the thick of the action with the ball in recent times though; he’s picked up five wickets in his past two outings. Apart from Stokes, star quick Jofra Archer who’s delivered on his potential with 13 wickets from just the eight matches and Ish Sodhi who has taken a wicket in each of his four games this season, Rajasthan’s attack might struggle to contain the likes of de Villiers, Kohli and Ali. It just goes to show that one players influence really does make a difference, that appeared to be the case for Jos Buttler who’s batting hot streak came to an end against Kolkata scoring a quick-fire 39 before hauling out to short third man. Sarcastically speaking, a pretty average effort given he was averaging a tick under 130 from five games. In all seriousness though, both Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson need to offer stand up in the absence of Buttler now, the pair have been performing well-below their standards for around six games now. Ben Stokes efforts with the ball might be getting praised, but his form with the bat has been atrocious. Stokes has scored just 49 runs in his past seven innings, and that’s batting in the middle order. Where on earth are Rajasthan’s runs going to come from now? Both Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes have left the IPL and flown back to England for the upcoming test series against Pakistan at home starting next week.
RCB have their foot firmly-planted on the accelerator as they continue to tick off wins at the back end of the tournament, their three-consecutive wins just about sees them favourites heading into tomorrow afternoon’s do or die match against the Royals in Jaipur. I had my doubts about English all-rounder Moeen Ali, clearly RCB didn’t though as they persisted with him after a couple of average scores with the bat, reaping the rewards for their persistence as the bearded-blaster struck an exciting 65 off just 34 balls featuring six-sixes! Had Ali produced another low score, Brendon McCullum would have been almost a certainty to return for the Royal Challengers as that power-hitter up the top of the order. That seems a forgone conclusion now, Ali should hold his spot alongside the prolific-duo of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers who will no-doubt be eager to produce a couple of match winning efforts against Rajasthan. Both Kohli and de Villiers are averaging over fifty with the bat in IPL 11 and have combined for a total of 953 runs with nine half centuries, you won’t find a more reliable combination in the comp. Parthiv Patel’s form has been patchy, but given the streak RCB are on they won’t mind him having a shocker every now and then, he has two 40+ scores from five matches which would suggest he’s handy enough. Bangalore are a batting side, so the bowling won’t worry them too much. Indian quick Umesh Yadav has been relatively consistent this season with his wicket taking along with spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, the pair has combined for 29 wickets and remain RCB’s best avenue to breaking through opposition line-ups. I’d be very surprised if RCB didn’t win this match, they’ve come this far and it would be shattering to fall at the final hurdle.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Rajasthan Royals | 53rd match | Jaipur
- Sanju Samson
- Jofra Archer
- Ajinkya Rahane
- D’Arcy Short
- Rahul Tripathi
Wildcard pick – Jaydev Unadkat
Top 5 fantasy picks | Royal Challengers Bangalore | 53rd match | Jaipur
- AB de Villiers
- Virat Kohli
- Umesh Yadav
- Yuzvendra Chahal
- Moeen Ali
Wildcard lick – Parthiv Patel
Rajasthan Royals (possible) – 1. D’Arcy Short 2. Rahul Tripathi 3. Ajinkya Rahane © 4. Sanju Samson (wk) 5. Heinrich Klaasen 6. Stuart Binny 7. Krishnappa Gowtham/Mahipal Lomror 8. Jaydev Unadkat 9. Jofra Archer 10. Ish Sodhi 11. Anureet Singh/Dhawal Kulkarni.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (possible) – 1. Parthiv Patel (wk) 2. Virat Kohli © 3. AB de Villiers 4. Moeen Ali 5. Mandeep Singh 6. Colin de Grandhomme 7. Sarfaraz Khan 8. Tim Southee 9. Umesh Yadav 10. Mohammed SIraj 11. Yuzvendra Chahal.
Match 54 – Sunrisers Hyderabad V Kolkata Knight Riders
Can the Knight Riders cement their spot in the playoffs with a victory against arguably the best team in the IPL this season? If not, they’ll be facing a nervous wait with four other potential candidates possibly surpassing Kolkata’s NRR (net run rate) if they can’t get the win. With both skippers in form with the bat from an individual perspective, both will be looking to inspire their sides once again in what should be a fast-paced & action packed game of twenty20 cricket! This match means very-little to Hyderabad but a whole lot for Kolkata, they will be fired up knowing they have a huge opportunity to consolidate their spot in the top four, but it’s not going to come easy.
It was a shock-loss against the Royal Challengers that probably did more damage to the standings than anything else, in saying that Kane Williamson won’t be wanting to head into the playoffs having lost consecutive-matches. That’s a momentum killer right there, Hyderabad must continue to fight as vigorously as they’ve done for the majority of this year’s competition. Injuries are beginning to play a part for the Sunrisers in IPL 11 as well, Wriddhiman Saha remains out of the side with a shoulder injury while Yusuf Pathan has missed the past couple of games due to soreness. Whether they make their return tomorrow night against Kolkata is unknown, what is a certainty though has to be Kane Williamson producing another sizeable score at No. 3 for Hyderabad. The Black Caps skipper continues to impress with the bat, he’s averaging 62.50 and has now scored over 600 runs in the tournament in what has been a batting masterclass from the classy right-hander. If opposition teams want to know the recipe for success in order to beat Hyderabad in 2018, the answer is simple – DISMISS WILLIAMSON EARLY. It’s no secret really, but given the form he’s in it appears almost impossible to nullify or restrict his impact at the crease, Willaimson has now scored four-consecutive fifties bumping him up to eight half centuries in this year’s IPL. It’s hard not to talk about the Sunrisers captain, but it’s simply unavoidable when you look at his form guide. Manish Pandey’s unbeaten 62 against RCB was a timely one, he’s had a difficult transition from Kolkata and will undoubtedly looking to inflict some pain on his former side tomorrow. Both Shikhar Dhawan and Alex Hales must show their worth at the top of the order tomorrow night as well, they are two aggressive stroke makers who could potentially give them a dream-start to the innings. Star-spin bowler Rahid Khan lurks as the danger man tomorrow, he’s coming off a three-wicket outing and looks back in business.
This could be the game where the Knight Riders make a stand against one of the frontrunners in this seasons IPL, a win against the Sunrisers Hyderabad could spur them into action during the playoffs. Nothing is conformed as of yet, but Kolkata would be well & truly aware of the ramifications in they were to lose tomorrow night. They wouldn’t be out of the playoffs race, but the fact that their net run rate is on the lower end of the scale could potentially tip them out of the top four, so a win is vital in that context. A huge momentum booster to come out of the RCB matchup was the Knight Riders bowling display. Having struggled for most of the tournament, the Knight Riders managed to bowl out the Rajasthan Royals in 19 overs led by Kuldeep Yadav’s 4/20 which proved to be a game-changing spell. The 23-year-old spinner was assisted by Prasidh Krishna (2/35) and West Indian all-rounder Andre Russell (2/13) who capped off one of their best bowling efforts of IPL 11. Whether one of those guys can take the big wicket of Sunrisers skipper Kane Williamson is a completely different question, but it remains one of the key components in order to beat Hyderabad this year. Caribbean mystery-spinner Sunil Narine laid-low in that win against Rajasthan, he still picked up one wicket and scored a 7-ball 21 at the top of the order with the bat, but his most influential game in the tournament is still to come. It’ll be up to the hard-hitting Chris Lynn and Kolkata’s Mr. consistency in 2018 Dinesh Karthik to set the platform again for a successful result, they have plenty of support around them to do so. It’s been six games since Lynn scored his last fifty, so he’s due for a big innings similar to Sunil Narine’s return to the spotlight against Kings XI. Andre Russell remains the biggest X factor in this match, he’s striking at a cataclysmic 192.59 this season!
Top 5 fantasy picks | Sunrisers Hyderabad | 54th match | Hyderabad
- Kane Williamson
- Rashid Khan
- Sandeep Sharma
- Shikhar Dhawan
- Shakib Al Hasan
Wildcard pick – Alex Hales
Top 5 fantasy picks | Kolkata Knight Riders | 54th match | Hyderabad
- Sunil Narine
- Chris Lynn
- Dinesh Karthik
- Andre Russell
- Kuldeep Yadav
Wildcard pick – Nitish Rana
Sunrisers Hyderabad (possible) – 1. Shikhar Dhawan 2. Alex Hales 3. Kane Williamson © 4. Manish Pandey 5. Shakib Al Hasan 6. Deepak Hooda/Yusuf Pathan 7. Shreevats Goswami/Wriddhiman Saha (wk) 8. Rashid Khan 9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Basil Thampi 10. Siddarth Kaul 11. Sandeep Sharma.
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 8. Shivam Mavi 9. Javon Scantlebury-Searles/Tom Curran/Mitchell Johnson 10. Kuldeep Yadav 11. Prasidh Krishna.
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.