We find ourselves back at the Eden Gardens, a venue that resembles a purple & gold fortress. It’s unfortunate, because their team the Kolkata Knight Riders are in a spot of bother having lost their past five matches which has kept them quieter than usual. The Rajasthan Royals haven’t exactly had the greatest of tournaments either, but the way Kolkata have been travelling it’s anyone’s game.
Kolkata Knight Riders
It’s desperate times for the Knight Riders in IPL 12, they’ve slumped to sixth in the standings and managed just five losses in their past five outings. Five-consecutive defeats will no-doubt be causing a lot of tension and angst amongst the playing group, and it’s starting to show. Even Dinesh Karthik’s leadership is being questioned, their ability to restrict the opposition with the bat has been laughable. The fact that both Dinesh Karthik, Robbie Uthappa and three others have been asked to “take a break” just about sums up where they’re at as a team. The axe has already been swung on some pretty big names such as Robbie Uthappa and Kuldeep Yadav who have both been well-below their lofty standards in this season’s IPL. Chris Lynn is starting to piece together more consistent scores at the top of the order for Kolkata, and Nitish Rana looked to be back to his best a couple games ago. It appears that their star batsman of the tournament Andre Russell is carrying a number of injuries, particularly in his wrist which is another red flag for the Knight Riders. No pain, no gain, Dre Russ has still managed to produce some fast-finishes with the willow despite injury and still leads the competition for the most sixes with 41.
Shubman Gill’s promotion up the order hasn’t gone as planned either, the 19-year-old has only been able to produce scores of 9 & 3 which now sees him under some pressure to hold his spot. The Knight Riders bowling this season was summed up perfectly in their last performance against Hyderabad where they managed just one wicket in 15 overs. Making their first appearances in the 2019 IPL, it’s fair to say both Prithvi Raj and KC Cariappa resembled two fish out of water. It was the spinner who looked completely out of his depth though, Cariappa conceded 34 runs from his two overs which could see him get the flick instantly. This is a team that is crying out for a Kagiso Rabada or Jofra Archer, they lack and strike bowler and it’s inevitably led to their downfall. Right now, Sunil Narine appears to be the most dangerous bowler at their disposal with 6 wickets in eight matches.
No Jos Buttler, no worries! After a suicidal-run out cost Sanju Samson his wicket without facing a ball, the Royals were immediately put under the pump. The man who had left Samson high-and-dry up the other end was Ajinkya Rahane, he’d just lost the captaincy and his individual form was starting to become a concern as well. To Rahane’s credit, he put that little-mishap aside and went on to score one of the more gritty-T20 centuries you are ever likely to see. Both he and newly-appointed Rajasthan skipper Steve Smith put on a 130-run partnership for the second wicket, Smith accumulating back-to-back fifties for the first time in IPL 12. Rahane was striking the ball superbly, if he can play with the same amount of freedom for the remainder of their fixture the Royals will finish strongly. Against a lacklustre-Kolkata bowling unit, I wouldn’t rule it out. Ashton Turner has to be the unluckiest man alive at the moment, a hat-trick of first-ball ducks to start his IPL career! Rajasthan could have no other choice but to drop him, 0 runs from three innings doesn’t sound good in any language.
The Royals will be without all-rounder Ben Stokes for tomorrow night’s match due to World Cup preparations for England, it’s fair to say he isn’t a huge loss given his lack of output this season. It does however shake up the team structure with both he and Buttler gone now. As far as their bowling goes, it’s still a work in progress. The seam & spin combination of Jofra Archer and Shreyas Gopal have produced 23 wickets between them in the 2019 IPL, however the rest of their attack have been bitterly-disappointing. Jaydev Unadkat has been very expensive with the ball in hand, and Dhawal Kulkarni hasn’t been much better in his past four outings either. We could potentially see both Oshane Thomas and Varun Aaron form a new fast bowling combo with Archer in this upcoming game.
Top 4 fantasy picks – Kolkata Knight Riders
- Sunil Narine
- Nitish Rana
- Chris Lynn
- Andre Russell
Wildcard pick – Rinku Singh
Top 4 fantasy picks – Rajasthan Royals
- Jofra Archer
- Steve Smith
- Sanju Samson
- Ajinkya Rahane
Wildcard pick – Liam Livingstone
Kolkata Knight Riders (possible) – 1. Chris Lynn 2. Sunil Narine 3. Shubman Gill/Robbie Uthappa 4. Nitish Rana 5. Dinesh Karthik (c & wk) 6. Rinku Singh 7. Andre Russell 8. Piyush Chawla 9. Prithvi Raj 10. Prasidh Krishna/Sandeep Warrier 11. Harry Gurney/Matthew Kelly.
Rajasthan Royals (possible) – 1. Ajinkya Rahane 2. Sanju Samson (wk) 3. Steve Smith © 4. Rahul Tripathi 5. Liam Livingstone 6. Riyan Parag 7. Stuart Binny 8. Shreyas Gopal 9. Jofra Archer 10. Oshane Thomas 11. Dhawal Kulkarni/Varun Aaron.
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.