Match date: May 15
Venue: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals find themselves in a similar situation at this crucial juncture of the Indian Premier League 2018. Both teams have six wins and as many losses from 12 games, and with a negative net run-rate. This means, with only two spots left in playoffs, their clash on Tuesday (May 15) at the Eden Gardens can significantly boost or dent qualifying chances.
Rajasthan have reinvigorated their campaign with three wins in their last three matches, Jos Buttler orchestrating all those victories. The wicketkeeper-batsman has smashed five consecutive fifty-plus scores since being promoted to the top of the batting order. His unbeaten 90s helped Rajasthan chase down stiff targets against Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians.
However, apart from Buttler, other Rajasthan batsmen have failed to live up to expectations. Ajinkya Rahane has had a middling season so far, while D’Arcy Short once again failed to cash in on the opportunity against Chennai on Sunday.
Sanju Samson, about whom Shane Warne spoke very highly recently, too has failed to convert starts of late. In the last four games, Samson crossed 20 each time but not once gone past 30. With Ben Stokes also not firing with the bat, Rajasthan have been forced to look in the direction of K Gowtham when the situation has demanded quick runs.
Jofra Archer has impressed with his bowling, both with his pace as well as the change of it, but Rajasthan will expect more wickets and less generosity from Jaydev Unadkat.
On the other hand, Kolkata had a playoff spot in their sights before suffering back-to-back defeats against Mumbai. However, they bounced back with a comprehensive victory over Kings XI Punjab in their last match.
Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine have been among the runs at the top of the order, with Andre Russell and Dinesh Karthik holding the middle order together. But it’s Robin Uthappa’s form which has been a concern for Karthik. Uthappa has looked in good touch during his brief stays at the wicket but is yet to play a decisive innings, while Nitish Rana has tapered off after a cracking start.
Their fast bowling department lacks consistency, and an injury to Shivam Mavi at this stage of the tournament hasn’t helped their cause either. Also, Kuldeep Yadav has failed to make a mark, having picked just four wickets in the last eight games, with an overall economy close to nine.
Kolkata, though, can draw inspiration from the fact that they have lost only one game against Rajasthan at the Eden Gardens, and that too in the inaugural season. However, there is no better time for Rajasthan to change that record.
Played: 17. Kolkata: 7. Rajasthan: 9. Abandoned: 1.
Head-to-head at Eden Gardens
Played: 6. Kolkata: 4. Rajasthan: 1. Abandoned: 1.Author : Wisden