While a win can take Mumbai over CSK to the top of the standings, it will also help avenge their four-wicket loss to the same opponents at the Wankhede stadium exactly a week ago.
For Rajasthan, a win is imperative if they are to have any chance of making the IPL play-offs after registering just two victories in eight games previously.
Will Mumbai climb above Chennai in the table or will the Royals do the double over Rohit Sharma and his men? Find out by following the ball-by-ball action from Jaipur below.
The loss was the fourth straight one for KKR in the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign and it left Dinesh Karthik’s men languishing in sixth spot in the table.
Chasing a daunting 214 for victory, Kolkata gave Bangalore a royal scare with Russell and Nitish Rana almost pulling off an improbable chase for the hosts at the Eden Gardens.
Russell struck 65 runs from just 25 deliveries with the help of nine sixes and two boundaries while Rana remained unbeaten on 85 (46) but the late arrival to the crease of the former played its part in KKR falling just short.
The Windies all-rounder only arrived at the crease at the end of the 12th over when Robin Uthappa became the fourth Kolkata wicket to fall. By the time Russell walked in to bat, the required rate for the hosts had already started shot up above 15 runs an over and that proved to be too big a mountain for even him to climb.
"Well done, @NitishRana_27. We need to regroup as a team, and carry the momentum from the partnership two of us had today" 🗣️@Russell12A, at the post-match press conference.🎙️#KKRvRCB #KKRHaiTaiyaar pic.twitter.com/SWyLYKqQa7— KolkataKnightRiders (@KKRiders) April 20, 2019
“Look, we were chasing 214 runs and weren’t in the best state when I went out to bat,” the KKR star man said after the narrow loss.
“When Nitish asked what I thought, I said ‘I bat one way – and that’s positive.’ But to go out there and chasing 14-15 per over, it’s not the best way you want to start as a batsman.
“I’m used to these situations, but why I say it’s a sweet and sour feeling is because we need to learn from this, as a team. We need to learn that we can get 214. And to lose by 10 runs, well, we were just two hits away.”
When asked if he should be batting higher up the order at No4, Russell replied, “I believe that.”
“Honestly, you have to sometimes be flexible as a team. When you look at the make-up of our team, I don’t mind going to bat at No4,” he added.
Russell and KKR will hope to reignite their campaign on Sunday when they take on last season’s runners-up Sunrisers Hyderabad in an away clash.
If you disregarded every ball Andre Russell faced this season that didn’t sail over the ropes, he’d still rank 13th in the run-scoring charts.
How can that be? Well, 234 of his 377 runs scored in the 2019 Indian Premier League have come purely in sixes. That’s a staggering 62 per cent. Factor in the 23 boundaries he’s hit as well and that figure rises to a phenomenal 92 per cent.
Running between the wickets is great and all, but when you can stand and deliver like Russell, why bother?
As it is, the West Indies all-rounder is the fourth-highest scoring batsman in the ongoing IPL campaign, just one run short of third-placed Virat Kohli. The fact that he predominantly operates as a power-hitter in the lower order makes his numbers particularly impressive. His average of 75.40 is the highest in the top 10 and a frightening strike rate of 220.46 is by far the most superior.
That’s precisely why it’s not ludicrous to suggest that Pawan Negi’s fielding on Friday might so easily have cost Royal Challengers Bangalore only their second win of the campaign.
In fairness to Negi, it’s hardly his fault. This is not in reference to another in a long series of dropped catches and misfields for RCB this season – indeed Marcus Stoinis added to that catalogue early on when he dropped Chris Lynn in the slips off Dale Steyn’s innings-opening delivery.
No, this is about a catch that was taken successfully, one which dismissed a faltering Robin Uthappa and brought a real threat in Russell to the crease.
Chasing 214, Kolkata Knight Riders found themselves reeling at 33/3 after five overs. It makes sense that Uthappa, along with Nitish Rana would decide to steady the ship but a steep and ever-climbing required run-rate meant that was a luxury they could scarcely afford.
The following five or six overs were excruciating for the home support as the pair poked and prodded their way through proceedings. While Rana belatedly switched gears and accelerated his own innings, Uthappa continued to struggle and Negi’s catch mercifully ended his misery with nine runs to show from the 20 balls he faced.
Another over or two with Uthappa in the middle might’ve put the game beyond even Russell and that further opens up the debate over ‘tactical’ dropped catches in T20 cricket.
As it were, Russell stepped in with 49 deliveries left and 135 runs required. It was an impossible scenario but with Russell in full flow and supported superbly by Rana, it quickly became RCB who were somehow staring down the barrel of an eighth defeat.
The Jamaican bludgeoned a panicking bowling attack for nine sixes and two boundaries on his way to 65 off 25 balls. What’s truly terrifying of the man’s ability is that his innings had a sense of routine about it while the three crucial dot balls Stoinis managed against him in the 19th over were deemed miraculous instead.
In the end, KKR fell just short of what would’ve been an extraordinary innings revival, one that may have eclipsed their successful chase against RCB at the start of the season when Russell played an unbeaten 48 off 13 deliveries.
His ruthless batting at Eden Gardens nevertheless redefined the parameters of may be classed as ‘impossible’ in T20 cricket – so long as he’s at the crease.
Chris Gayle has long been regarded as the most devastatingly explosive batsmen in IPL history and he’s been no slouch this season either. But if Russell can maintain his current form, there’s every chance he dethrones his compatriot and begins his own reign of terror.