In a crunch clash for both sides, Kolkata Knight Riders take on the Rajasthan Royals at the Eden Gardens on Tuesday. Both sides are currently level on 12 points each although the Knight Riders have a superior net run-rate compared to the Royals.
Knight Riders skipper Dinesh Karthik won the toss and elected to bowl first. Rajasthan got off to an electric start with 57 runs coming off the first three overs as Jos Buttler and Rahul Tripathi made merry.
However, Tripathi’s dismissal for 25 (17) triggered a huge collapse from the visitors with wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav finding his groove. Kuldeep picked up four wickets while conceding only 20 runs as Rajasthan Royals slumped to 134-8 at the end of the 17th over.
Ultimately, the Royals were bowled out for 142 runs with Buttler top-scoring once again for the side with 39 runs off 22 balls. In reply Sunil Narine’s seven-ball 21 gave the hosts a flying start with the bat. The Knight Riders were comfortably placed at 109-3 after 14 overs with Chris Lynn unbeaten on 48. In the end, the hosts won by six wickets with two overs to spare as Karthik remained unbeaten on 41 from 31 balls.
Get the latest updates from Tuesday’s match below.
However, while a first Test call-up since December 2016 will be cherished by Buttler, the news could not have come at a worse time for his IPL outfit Rajasthan Royals. Ajinkya Rahane’s men are currently involved in a cut-throat five-way race for two playoff spots.
The Royals will face Royal Challengers Bangalore at home in its final league match. With a victory against Bangalore being the minimum requirement for Rajasthan to qualify for the playoffs, they will dearly feel the absence of their in-form batsman.
With the first Test between England and Pakistan getting underway on May 24 at Lord’s, the England Test squad members are supposed to report for duty by May 17. This means that Buttler will miss the side’s clash against RCB on May 19 as well as the playoffs in case Rajasthan progress.
The Englishman has carried the playoff hopes for the franchise with five consecutive half-centuries since being moved to the top of the batting order.
The rest of Rajasthan’s batting-order has been off colour with Ben Stokes being woefully out of form with the bat.
A third consecutive defeat for franchise has caused a lot of damage. At one point, it looked like the Kings XI would sail into the playoffs after their strong first-half but Tuesday’s defeat has thrown the side into a five-way race for the last two playoff spots in the IPL.
Punjab’s net-run rate took the bigger hit, which has seen the side slide down to fifth position in the IPL. This means the side need to win both their remaining matches.
That defeat will be music to the ears of their opponents on Wednesday at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai. Defending champions Mumbai Indians’ resurgence was brought to a halt by the Rajasthan Royals but such is their net run-rate compared to the other four teams in the playoff race that victories in their remaining two games should seal a place in the last-four.
KINGS XI BATTING WOES
All throughout the IPL, the Punjab franchise has been riding on the wave of KL Rahul’s excellent form with the bat. The opener’s showing along with some handy contributions from Chris Gayle have masked the non-show from the rest of the batsmen in the line-up including Karun Nair, Aaron Finch and Mayank Agarwal.
This soft underbelly was exposed by Royal Challengers Bangalore when Rahul and Gayle fell early on Sunday as the side was bundled out for just 88 runs on a pitch where batsmen should have flourished. This chink in the armour will be definitely be targeted by their opponents on Wednesday. If the openers fail to fire, the rest of the batting line-up will be under extreme pressure.
Remember when things were just going fine for KXIP and then they decided to experiment with their batting order against Rajasthan Royals for no reason.... been all downhill since then. #IPL2018 #KXIPvRCB— Chetan Narula (@chetannarula) May 14, 2018
PRESSURE ON ROHIT
Rohit Sharma has shown both the good and the bad, mostly the latter, when it comes to his batting in this year’s IPL. The Mumbai skipper has been dismissed for a golden duck three times this season and bar two knocks of 94 and 56 against Royal Challengers and Kings XI respectively, the India ODI vice-captain has flattered to deceive.
The latest of his ducks came in the side’s defeat to Rajasthan Royals on Saturday and seeing his performances in the last few matches, the skipper is definitely due a big one on Wednesday.
Rohit Sharma golden duck in IPL— Broken Cricket (@BrokenCricket) May 13, 2018
First 10 seasons: None
This IPL season: 3 times
Mumbai Indians: Suryakumar Yadav, Evin Lewis, Rohit Sharma (c), JP Duminy, Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Ben Cutting, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mayank Markande, Jasprit Bumrah
Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul (wk), Chris Gayle, Karun Nair, Aaron Finch, Mayank Agarwal, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma, Ankit Rajpoot