The penultimate round of matches in the Indian Premier League begins with one of the key matches of the season on Tuesday afternoon when the Kolkata Knight Riders play host to the Rajasthan Royals at Eden Gardens.
We now know that there are five sides competing for the final two places in the playoffs and these are two of them. Both teams are on 12 points going into this match and a win here will give them a massive advantage in the race to qualify for the postseason.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Things looked to be getting away from the Kolkata Knight Riders but they managed a huge win against the Kings XI Punjab on Sunday. That redressed their ledger of six wins and six defeats and if they win their last two they will be assured of a place in the playoffs. Anything but that and they will rely on other results.
They produced a monster batting performance in that match against the Kings XI and if they have a couple more of those then you would think they will have every chance of making it through. The concern would be that they still conceded more than 210 in that match but it was a crazy good wicket. Even so a good bowling performance here would be welcome.
What looked like being a disaster of a season for the Rajasthan Royals could suddenly become a fantastic one. They are on a bit of a roll with three wins on the bounce and their senior and expensive players are delivering the goods. They are beginning to fire as one complete unit and they look a really good side as a result.
In order to get anything from this season the Royals needed Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes to perform to their maximum and since those three gained big responsibility the team has fired. If the Indians in the side can get up to their maximum form then this could yet be the campaign they wanted when they set out.
Kolkata Knight Riders may well be unchanged for this match which means that Javon Searles may well get a second go ahead of Tom Curran and Mitchell Johnson. This is likely to be a trial by spin.
Rajasthan Royals may decide that D’Arcy Short’s return will be short lived. Whether Heinrich Klaasen or Ish Sodhi comes in for him remains to be seen. That is likely to be the only change to their side.
I’m going to go with the Rajasthan Royals in this match as the value in it. They are playing some good cricket at the minute and they have a bowling attack which can tame this Kolkata batting line up especially the top three which is where the bulk of the power lies in it.
Kolkata Knight Riders may just have caught the Kings XI Punjab at the right time at the weekend but we saw on Monday that beating them might not have alluded to much. Prior to that the Knight Riders had lost two on the spin and they weren’t playing great cricket it has to be said. Much is at stake here but I like the Royals to come out on top in this one.
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