The Indian Premier League is back in Mumbai on Saturday afternoon for a big match between two teams in the bottom half of the table as the Rajasthan Royals go up against the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Wankhede Stadium.
Not only do these two teams sit in the bottom half of the table going into the match, they are actually in the bottom two and with three teams looking like escaping from them this feels like a big game for the winner to remain relevant this term.
The Rajasthan Royals go into this match with one win from their four outings and the big problem they have had is the amount of runs they have leaked. Three times in the tournament they have conceded more than 180 runs and in the one they didn’t they had the Delhi Capitals 37-4 and still let them make 147 so that wasn’t the greatest bowling performance in the world either. They need to find some bowling combinations which work and do it quickly.
It all looks as though their batting hasn’t been good enough but that hasn’t been the case. While a couple of their standout players haven’t hit absolute top form, the collective is still scoring quite a few runs but you sense everyone is now aware of their inadequacies with the ball and are starting to strive for more runs to compensate for that and aren’t maximising the talent that is at their disposal with the bat in hand. That is a dangerous combination.
Kolkata Knight Riders
You could level the same issues at the Kolkata Knight Riders as well. Their batting has gone round the park on a few occasions so far and that isn’t as expected. I say that because they started their campaign in Chennai where the bowlers have been on top but theirs couldn’t always control sides. You can forgive them going the distance in their previous match because they were adjusting to conditions here in Mumbai, but it goes without saying that there needs to be an improvement in that department.
The one thing we did see in that last game is that the move to Mumbai has done their batting the world of good. These are the conditions the likes of Sunil Narine and Andre Russell thrive in and when they get going no total is safe and no par score will not be threatened. There is a bit of pressure on the Knight Riders after their poor start to the season which might temper their intent, but that’s not generally how Eoin Morgan tells his team to think.
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Jos Buttler hasn’t really turned up like we would expect in this tournament yet. There are no excuses for that because this was his home ground in his early IPL days so he’ll know all about the conditions. If he can find his form it would help Rajasthan put up a significant total.
Andre Russell showed all his power and pyrotechnics with the bat in the previous match and now that he has got into the tournament with the bat we shouldn’t expect him to go quietly for the next few matches. Expect him to cut loose once again.
I’m never one to bet on the outcome at this ground at the best of times and I’m certainly not changing strategy here. I say that because of the inconsistency of these two sides throughout the tournament and the fact that this ground is very hard to defend without early wickets and even then these two sides bat so deep they can still run a big score close. You’d expect the chasing side to prevail here but I’ll side with something a little more secure.
That comes in the form of the over in sixes. I’m surprised the line is 15.5 in this match when you consider the last time the Knight Riders took to the field they hit 14 sixes in a match which contained 26 of them. There were 16 of them in the last match here where Rajasthan were 18-3 and 43-4 batting first so that highlights the likelihood of sixes in this contest. The big hitters come from the start and keep on coming in this match so I expect this line to cover nicely.
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