Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals lock horns in the eliminator match on Wednesday at the Eden Gardens, to decide who goes on to play the second qualifier match.
Cricket news: Can KKR enjoy the comforts of home-ground or will RR pull off a miracle without their star players
Kolkata had previously defeated Rajasthan in a league match in the same venue, thanks to their spinners. When assistant coach Simon Katich was asked about the win, he said, “This is exactly how we wanted it. That Rajasthan game was exactly how we wanted it from game one.”
Rajasthan were already out of that game by halfway mark because of their terrible batting and KKR’s Kuldeep Yadav’s excellent bowling. That match turned Kuldeep’s season around after accounting for just 10 wickets in 13 league stage games till then.
While Kuldeep picked a four-fer, Sunil Narine conceded just 29 runs and Rajasthan succumbed to the spin bowling of KKR, which didn’t even include the likes of Piyush Chawla.
However Rajasthan also has their own spinners in the likes of Krishnappa Gowtham. Shreyas Gopal and Ish Sodhi.
Gowtham has been their go-to bowler during the powerplay overs, while Gopal made a terrific comeback in the previous match against Hyderabad. Sodhi has filled a vacant space for foreign players and has made it his own.
But their total of 24 wickets is a pale reflection of the KKR’s spinners total of 41. But that is the beauty of knockout games. One beautiful performance can knockout this massive deficit and can also nullify a season’s worth of middling output.
However it will not be easy for Rajasthan as they will be going into the match without their best batsman, Jos Butler, and their best bowler, Ben Stokes, who have gone home to play for their country.
KKR will be playing in their home-ground, but that notion might vanish as in such high-stakes match, ground factor sometimes does not matter.
However Rajasthan have last won in Eden when Shane Warne was their captain, Yusuf Pathan their main all-rounder, Sohail Tanvir their best bowler and the IPL was in its first year.
Since then they have played here five times and have lost in every occasion, except the 2015 match, which was abandoned.
KKR’s batting has been the most settled one among other teams. They do not have anyone above 500 runs tally, but have two batsmen with 400-plus and six batsmen with 250-plus runs in this season.
Comparatively Rajasthan Jos Butler (538 runs) will not be available, while Sanju Samson (391 runs), Ajinkya Rahane (328 runs) and Rahul Tripathi (206 runs) have been highly inconsistent. But these numbers will not matter for Rajasthan if they can somehow put on a brilliant performance and knock KKR out.
Venue – Eden Gardens, Kolkata
KKR Probable XI: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik (c & wk), Andre Russell, Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Javon Searles, Piyush Chawla, Prasidh Krishna, Kuldeep Yadav
RR Probable XI: Ajinkya Rahane (c), Rahul Tripathi, Sanju Samson, Heinrich Klassen (wk), Krishnappa Gowtham, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Stuart Binny, Ish Sodhi, Jaydev Unadkat, Ben Laughlin