IPL 2018 Preview: Battle for the playoffs at its peak as Kolkata Knight Riders take on Rajasthan Royals

Ashish Peter 14/05/2018
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Rahane and Karthik go head-to-head. Image - IPL/Twitter.

The race for the IPL playoff spots is well and truly on with the Kolkata Knight Riders taking on Rajasthan Royals at Eden Gardens on Tuesday. In a highly crucial clash for the two teams, who are level on points (12), the margins are fine as the competition approaches the business end.

Due to their inferior net run-rates, the two sides might need to win both their remaining fixtures to assure themselves of a place in the last-four.

KNIGHT RIDERS NEED TO MAKE HOME ADVANTAGE COUNT

In a playoff race which is getting murkier with each passing game, Kolkata have their fate in their own hands for now. Two victories in the remaining two will confirm a last-four spot and as such, they will need to make the most of playing at home against the Royals.

It is even more highly imperative for Dinesh Karthik’s men given their last fixture comes away at the home of the current IPL leaders Sunrisers Hyderabad who are looking indomitable at the moment.

BUTTLER CARRYING ROYALS SINGLE-HANDEDLY

At the half-way stage, the Royals looked all but out of playoff contention. That picture has changed drastically since Jos Buttler was promoted to open the innings. The Englishman has registered five half-centuries on the bounce since then with two unbeaten scores of 90 plus in his last two innings.

Buttler has almost single-handedly dragged the Royals back into contention with the side having won three games on the trot now. With the other batsmen in the side yet to really click, Buttler will need to keep up that astonishing form to keep Rajasthan’s winning momentum.

PLAYERS IN-FOCUS

The Knight Riders notched up the highest score in this season’s IPL when they amassed 245 runs on the board against Kings XI Punjab on Saturday. Two West Indies stars Sunil Narine and Andre Russell were at the forefront of that effort.

The Caribbean duo has been the mainstay for most of the good things Kolkata have done this season with both bat and ball and they will be the biggest threats to Ajinkya Rahane‘s men on Tuesday.

LIKELY LINE-UPS

Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (c, wk), Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Javon Searles, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna.

Rajasthan Royals: Jos Buttler (wk), Ajinkya Rahane (c), Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Stuart Binny, K Gowtham, Rahul Tripathi, Jofra Archer, Ish Sodhi, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat.

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Cricket Fan Park at Dubai Sports City to play host to IPL drama

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Don't miss a ball of the IPL action.

Cricket fans can watch every thundering ball, high-scoring run and incredible catch of the latter stages of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Cricket Fan Park at Dubai Sports City.

With the 2018 season of the IPL entering the business end, cricket fans will be able to see their favourite teams take to the field live on giant TV screens inside the ICC Academy’s Indoor Centre.

Every IPL match played between May 15-27 will be shown at the venue, including the play-offs, qualifiers and season-ending grand finale at the Wankhede Stadium.

The first game to be broadcast at the Cricket Fan Park will see the Kolkata Knight Riders take on the Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday (May 15).

An electric, festival atmosphere is guaranteed with music, beverages, food trucks and stalls serving a selection of Asian and continental dishes, including a traditional chaat station, plus a kids’ area and gaming zone to keep the whole family entertained.

The 700-capacity venue, which is open to fans of all ages, will be filled with the colourful flags of the IPL’s eight teams as well as play host to cricket-themed branding and activities.

The Cricket Fan Park will open an hour before the start of each match, i.e. 13:30 for double header games and 17:30 for regular matches.

Tickets will be available from the box office located outside the ICC Academy with regular tickets priced at Dh50, which includes a Dh30 food and beverage coupon that can be used at any of the venue’s outlets. VIP lounge tickets cost Dh100 and include a Dh60 F&B coupon.

Now in its 11th season, the IPL has grown in size and popularity each year with fans around the world enthralled by its exciting brand of Twenty20 cricket and competitive league format.

Visitors to the Cricket Fan Park will be able to cheer on their team in a thrilling stadium atmosphere.

To find out more about Dubai Sports City please visit: http://www.dsc.ae/.

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IPL 2018: Jos Buttler hits fifth consecutive fifty in Rajasthan Royals' crucial win over Mumbai Indians

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Buttler hit his fifth straight IPL fifty. Image: BCCI.

Rajasthan Royals roared to a an emphatic seven-wicket win over Mumbai Indians on the back of the fifth straight IPL fifty by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.

Mumbai Indians struggled their way to 168 for six which seemed well below par on a true surface at the Wankhede Stadium. And England wicketkeeper Buttler proved as much as he hit nine fours and five sixes during his 53-ball 94 not out.

Rajasthan Royals thus moved up to fifth on the points table and also pushed Chennai Super Kings into the playoffs.

MUMBAI’S STUTTERING START

Mumbai Indians openers Suryakumar Yadav and Evin Lewis were together until the 11th over but the runs didn’t quite flood in. They maintained a run rate of around eight an over which meant Rajasthan weren’t exactly out of the game.

Then Jofra Archer shifted the momentum towards Rajasthan with two cracking short deliveries. The first one to Suryakumar hurried the batsman as Jaydev Unadkat took a low catch at fine leg. And the very next delivery, Archer banged on in short to leave captain Rohit Sharma in a tangle. The ball ballooned to Unadkat at fine leg again and he did well to hold on to a difficult chance.

ARCHER AND STOKES A CLASS APART

All-rounders Archer and Ben Stokes were instrumental in keeping Mumbai down to a manageable total. Archer gave away just 16 runs from his four overs and took the key scalp of Rohit. Stokes, on the other hand, put a disappointing season behind him to finish with a respectable 2-26. The England all-rounder dismissed two of the biggest strikers in the Mumbai camp – Hardik Pandya and Ishan Kishan – to show the quality that players can find a way out of any slump.

BUMRAH’S SUPER FIRST OVER

Mumbai Indians needed a strong start in their defence. Opening bowler Jasprit Bumrah bowled a brilliant first ball to D’Arcy Short, with the attempted yorker taking the inside edge. He then got the ball to swing away after pitching to catch Short’s outside edge which the keeper Kishan collected cleanly.

BUTTLER SERVES UP ANOTHER TREAT

Rajasthan wicketkeeper Buttler is having the time of his life at the top of the order. Ever since he was promoted to the opener’s role, the English keeper hasn’t looked back.

On Sunday, Buttler took it upon himself to push Mumbai’s bowlers on the backfoot as he kept two main threats – spinners Krunal Pandya (0-24) and Mayank Markande (0-32) – quiet. He raced to his fifth consecutive fifty of the IPL, making him only the fourth player in history to hit as many successive fifties in the format. Also, he became only the second player in IPL – after Virender Sehwag in 2012 – to hit five straight fifties.

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