With six losses on the bounce in the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign, time is fast running out for Kolkata Knight Riders to salvage their play-off hopes. On Sunday, Dinesh Karthik and his men will up against a rampant Mumbai Indians who could go top of the league standings with another win.
All throughout their campaign, KKR have been heavily reliant on star all-rounder Andre Russell to bail them out of tricky situations but that luck ran out a long time ago with the side now in a perennial slide.
Russell alone has contributed with 406 runs and eight wickets in the IPL 2019 campaign but the Windies man has called for better decision making from the rest of his team-mates ahead of the Mumbai clash.
“We have a good team,” Russell told the media on the eve of the clash.
“But having a good team and making bad decisions, I think you will always lose games. And that’s what we’ve been doing,” he added.
Kolkata were close to bringing their losing streak to a halt in their last match against Rajasthan but failed to defend a 175-run total despite reducing the opposition to 123-6.
At pains to explain where it has all gone wrong for KKR, Russell said, “I could pinpoint a few games where if we’d just looked to bowl tighter, and bowl bowlers who would restrict the game – the right bowlers at the right time.”
“They say our batting has been struggling, but our batting hasn’t been struggling really. We get the totals that we should defend, and we should restrict teams to lesser totals and go in and get those runs.
“And we don’t really take our catches, we’ve been the worst fielding team so far. It’s plain on TV, everyone’s seeing it.”
It will be the first meeting of the season between the two sides who are slate to clash once again just a week later at Mumbai.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (c and wk), Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Rinku Singh, Piyush Chawla, Prithvi Raj, Prasidh Krishna
Mumbai Indians: Quinton de Kock (wk), Rohit Sharma (c), Suryakumar Yadav, Evin Lewis, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Anukul Roy, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga.
However, the next opponents for the young guns of Delhi are a team in similarly rich vein of form as they scramble desperately to keep their slim play-off ambitions alive.
Having started the season with six straight losses, Royal Challengers Bangalore are still hanging by a thread ahead of their visit to Delhi with four victories coming in their last five matches.
As such, there is little to separate the two sides when it comes to form and momentum ahead of Sunday’s blockbuster meeting at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium.
DELHI ON A HIGH BUT STILL NOT OUT OF THE WOODS
Having finished as the wooden-spoon holders in the 2018 edition, it has been some turnaround from the rejigged Delhi Capitals with the team now potentially just one victory away from sealing a play-off berth.
Currently sitting in third and behind Mumbai Indians only on net run-rate, Delhi will be aiming for a strong finish but they need to be wary that things could change fast.
Three defeats in their remaining league matches could still see them drop out of the play-off race and as such, they will need to ensure that they don’t take their foot off the gas just yet.
BANGALORE IN A FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL
While Delhi are searching for that one win which will all but confirm a play-off qualification, RCB are in a desperate battle to just survive. Having looked down and out at the halfway stage, Virat Kohli’s men have done extremely well to stay alive for another round and they have done it the hard way too.
All four of Bangalore’s victories have gone down to the wire with the side showing immense mental fortitude to ultimately finish on the right side of the result. With Kohli’s men still needing to win each of their three remaining games to have any shot at the play-offs, the difficulty of the task ahead for Bangalore has just gone up by a degree.
They have lost the services of veteran South Africa pacer Dale Steyn after just two games and his early wickets in the powerplay overs will be a serious miss. Couple it with the departures of all-rounder Moeen Ali back to England and RCB are starting to look a little light for the remainder of the campaign.
RCB’S FEROZ SHAH KOTLA STRONGHOLD
While Delhi did manage to get the better of RCB in the reverse-fixture earlier this season at Bengaluru, their record at home against their opponents isn’t too flattering.
In the past eight meetings between the two sides at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, it has been RCB who have come out on top on each occasion. The last time Delhi managed to get the better of Bangalore in their own backyard was all the way back in the 2010 edition when Paul Collingwood’s unbeaten 75 paved the way for a 37-run win.
Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Sherfane Rutherford, Colin Ingram, Axar Patel, Chris Morris, Amit Mishra, Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (c), Parthiv Patel (wk), AB de Villiers, Marcus Stoinis, Colin de Grandhomme, Akshdeep Nath, Washington Sundar, Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini.
Steve Smith’s men are currently two points behind SRH in the league standings and must win all three of their remaining encounters to have any chance of making the top-four.
Hyderabad, on the other hand, currently occupy the fourth and final play-off spot and will be hoping to cement that position with a win over the Royals.
Can Rajasthan add a further twist in the race for the play-off spots or will SRH steal a march on KXIP with a win? Find out by following the ball-by-ball action from Jaipur below.