While one team is desperate to enter the playoffs, the other team would be hoping to spoil the party and finish the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) on a winning note. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), with 12 points onboard have playoffs at stake. On the other hand, Rajasthan Royals (RR) would be hoping for a win that would give them a little ray of hope of qualifying. However, that’s very difficult given their net run rate at the moment.
Since the start of the UAE leg of the IPL, KKR have looked a different side, winning games consistently and putting on some good performances along the way. The franchise has also unearthed a gem in Venkatesh Iyer, who has looked phenomenal, to say the least. In the absence of Andre Russell, the side has found ways of winning the matches as bowlers like Lockie Ferguson and Tim Southee have ably stepped up.
The only concern for the management would be the lack of runs from skipper Eoin Morgan’s blade. Wicketkeeper batter Dinesh Karthik has looked decent but KKR would be hoping for the senior player to finish off more games.
Meanwhile, RR have themselves to blame for falling off the playoffs race. Against a determined MI side, they were kept down to only 90 runs. Later, their bowlers too failed to stop rampaging MI batters as the run-chase was finished off inside 10 overs. RR’s foreign players, the likes of Chris Morris and Liam Livingstone have failed to get going and that has put added pressure on Indian players to bail the team out. Barring Sanju Samson and Mustafizur Rahman, the rest of them have shown flashes of brilliance but have failed to show consistency.
The match is going to be played at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, one of the trickiest pitches of the three venues in the UAE. The odd ball has kept low which has kept the batters getting. Teams may prefer put runs onboard after winning the toss.
Predicted Playing XI
Kolkata Knight Riders
Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (c), Shakib Al Hasan, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Sunil Narine, Shivam Mavi, Tim Southee, Varun Chakravarthy
Evin Lewis/ Liam Livingstone, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson (c & wk), Shivam Dube, Glenn Phillips, David Miller/ Chris Morris, Rahul Tewatia, Kuldip Yadav, Chetan Sakariya, Shreyas Gopal, Mustafizur Rahman
While Venkatesh Iyer has hogged the majority of the limelight, the contribution of KKR’s number three Rahul Tripathi has also been vital in KKR doing well in the UAE leg of the IPL. The right-hand batter has so far scored 356 runs in 13 games and has looked good calm at the crease. He would hope to add few more runs.
With Chris Morris failing to deceive the batters, Mustafizur Rahman has stepped up and provided vital wickets for the franchise. The left-arm pacer’s smart variations and slower balls have left the batters flummoxed.