It’s not looking promising for the visiting-Rajasthan Royals who were comprehensively beaten at this very venue against the Knight Riders not long ago. It was a phenomenal effort to make the playoffs after losing the in-form Jos Buttler who has returned to England, that being said they’ll need their big guns to fire tonight if they’re to make it through to the second qualifier on Friday. One particular aspect that might give Rajasthan some hope is that the Knight Riders only have a 65% success rate at Eden Gardens this year, although they just happened to be one of Kolkata’s four victims on home soil.
Finishing third on the IPL points table this season, Kolkata have had another successful campaign with wins occurring regularly enough. For a lengthy period in the tournament, both the Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad looked like playing off in this season’s final given their superior dominance amongst the rest of the competition. All of sudden Hyderabad have lost their past four games and are no longer guaranteed to face-off against Chennai in the final this Sunday. As a result, that opens the door a bit wider for the one of these two sides. The big challenge for the Royals will be restricting the impact of Kolkata’s batting line-up, it’s probably one of the most threatening one’s in the comp with the likes of Chris Lynn, Andre Russell and Sunil Narine scattered throughout it. Those three overseas players are probably the most damaging with the bat, Lynn has strung together some respectable scores while the larger than life-Russell lays dormant like a volcano ready to erupt at any moment. To complement the three big-hitters are Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik who provide stability, that’s under hurdle Rajasthan will have to overcome somehow. Karthik has just about equalled his 2013 IPL campaign in terms of his scoring input, averaging 54.75 as he continues to lead from the front. 22-year-old seamer Prasidh Krishna has really stepped up for the Knight Riders in the bowling attack, he’s snaffled eight wicket in his past three games and looks to be their strike bowler after almost an entire campaign without a genuine wicket-taking seamer. Spinner Kuldeep Yadav also picked up a four-wicket haul not long ago and looms as a potential match winner if he’s on song. Everything points to the Knight Riders at home, they’ll head into tomorrow night’s eliminator as the favourites.
Rajasthan are going to have their hands full as they prepare to do battle with the Kolkata Knight Riders for a second time this season at Eden Gardens where they were defeated by 6 wickets. Against all odds last Saturday, the Royals denied RCB of their late season comeback to reach the playoffs as Jaipur erupted with cheers as their side scraped through to the top four. It just goes to show that results in this year’s IPL have been as unpredictable as ever, nobody would have predicted that Hyderabad slump to a four-game losing streak after such a white-hot run, and RCB losing to the Royals was a shock to many as well. Opening batsman Rahul Tripathi was Rajasthan’s saviour as he bludgeoned an unbeaten 80 against a helpless Royal Challengers bowling attack. Before that incredible match winning effort from Tripathi, he was averaging just 15.75 in IPL 11. Losing Jos Buttler’s batting credentials at the top of the order and Ben Stokes wicket-taking ability of recent with the ball, Rajasthan were dealt a hefty blow but still managed to cover for those two massive losses which led to that inspirational win against a determined RCB outfit. What threatens to let them down tomorrow night is their top order, both Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson have been on a significant decline in form and have both gone seven matches without scoring a fifty which is a huge concern. South African wicketkeeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen proved to be a handy replacement for Buttler scoring 32 off 21 deliveries at No. 5, however Jofra Archer’s elevation to the top of the order was an epic fail as he produced a four-ball duck. One of the pondering questions in this match will be whether they keep Ben Laughlin in the XI as the extra bowler, or bring in D’Arcy Short to bolster their batting order. Given the Australian pair have only played 6 & 7 games in IPL 11 respectively, it’s a toss of the coin.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Kolkata Knight Riders | eliminator | Kolkata
- Dinesh Karthik
- Prasidh Krishna
- Sunil Narine
- Andre Russell
- Chris Lynn
Wildcard pick – Kuldeep Yadav
Top 5 fantasy picks | Rajasthan Royals | eliminator | Kolkata
- Heinrich Klaasen
- Rahul Tripathi
- Jofra Archer
- Sanju Samson
- Shreyas Gopal
Wildcard pick – Stuart Binny
Kolkata Knight Riders (possible) – 1. Chris Lynn 2. Sunil Narine 3. Robin Uthappa 4. Nitish Rana 5. Dinesh Karthik (c & wk) 6. Andre Russell 7. Shubman Gill 8. Piyush Chawla/Shivam Mavi 9. Javon Scantlebury-Searles/Mitchell Johnson/Tom Curran 10. Prasidh Krishna 11. Kuldeep Yadav.
Rajasthan Royals (possible) – 1. Ajinkya Rahane © 2. Rahul Tripathi 3. Sanju Samson 4. Heinrich Klaasen (wk) 5. Krishnappa Gowtham 6. Stuart Binny 7. Shreyas Gopal 8. Jofra Archer 9. Jaydev Unadkat 10. Ish Sodhi 11. Ben Laughlin.