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Here is the today Match Preview By ‘Mi Lu’
Halfway through a media interaction with KKR assistant coach Simon Katich, the sometimes-mundane, mostly-mandatory question about the pitch popped up. However, the former Aussie batsman answered with a glint in his eyes and a smile on his face: “This is exactly how we wanted it. That Rajasthan game was exactly how we wanted it from game one.”
The match in question took place a week ago, where Rajasthan Royals – their eliminator opponent – were out of the contest by the halfway stage owing to a terrible batting show. It was also the fixture where Kuldeep Yadav turned his season around after accounting for just 10 wickets in 13 league stage games till then. He picked a four-fer, Sunil Narine conceded just 29 and RR succumbed to a spin choke which didn’t even involve KKR’s third spinner Piyush Chawla.On Wednesday, RR are unlikely to be in such luck.
Luckily for them, though, they have a spin triumvirate of their own. Krishnappa Gowtham has been RR’s go-to bowler in the powerplay overs, Shreyas Gopal made an impressive return to the team in the last league-stage game against SRH and Ish Sodhi has made one of the four vacant spots for foreign players his own too. Though their aggregate of 24 wickets is pale in comparison to the 41 acquired by Narine, Chawla and Kuldeep, the gameon Wednesdaypresents them the single opportunity to wipe out the massive deficit with just one good, outwitting performance. That’s perhaps the beauty of knockout formats of any tournament of any sport in the world, where one perfect night can nullify a season’s worth of middling output. But that’s easier said than done, particularly so for Rajasthan Royals at the Eden Gardens. As RR prepare to reverse the result of their previous outing at the venue, they will be without their best batsman [Jos Buttler] and best bowler [Ben Stokes] from that game.
The notion of ‘home advantage’ for KKR might yet go out of the window in such a high-stakes fixture, but there’s another stumbling [mental] block for RR. The last time they tasted success in Kolkata, Shane Warne was still captain, Sohail Tanvir was their surprise opening option, Yusuf Pathan, the reason for that victory, was merely 25, and the IPL was in its first year. In the decade since, RR have played five times at the venue and lost on each occasion, while the game in 2015 was abandoned
As far as batting goes, KKR have perhaps been the most settled sides in the tournament. They don’t have a single batter with a score in excess of 500, but have two with a 400-plus tally and a total of six batsmen who have hit more than 250 runs in the season. In comparison, RR’s top-scorer – Buttler with 538 runs – isn’t available while then next three on the list – Sanju Samson (391 runs), Ajinkya Rahane (328 runs) and Rahul Tripathi (206 runs) – have all been highly inconsistent. For this lot too,Wednesday’sgame is a chance to make all these numbers sound highly insignificant.
When: Wednesday, May 23, 2018, 7 PM IST
Where: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
What to expect: A cloudy evening with thunderstorms expected around10 PM.If rain comes into the equation and results in a washout, KKR will play the second qualifier while RR will be knocked out on the basis of points table standings.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Shivam Mavi featured in KKR’s previous game at home [against Rajasthan Royals] before making way for Piyush Chawla in Hyderabad. Katich talked up the prospect of unleashing three spinners at this venue, increasing the likelihood of Chawla staying on for this home fixture.
Probable XI: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik (c&wk), Andre Russell, Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Javon Searles, Piyush Chawla, Prasidh Krishna, Kuldeep Yadav
With spin likely to be the main weapon of choice for KKR, it will be interesting to see where Heinrich Klassen bats. RR have constantly shuffled around with their top-order, and might be tempted to allow the South African – who carries the reputation of being a good player of spin bowling – open the innings with Rahul Tripathi. RR’s Jofra Archer experiment didn’t yield favourable results against RCB, and is likely to be shelved, while D’Arcy Short, whose troubles against spin bowling have been well-documented in this year’s IPL, should remain on the bench too.
Probable XI: Ajinkya Rahane (c), Rahul Tripathi, Sanju Samson, Heinrich Klassen (wk), Krishnappa Gowtham, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Stuart Binny, Ish Sodhi, Jaydev Unadkat, Ben Laughlin
Head to Head:
KKR 8 – 7 RR (Two ties, both won by RR)
Team Record at Eden Gardens
KKR 5 – 1 RR
Narine vs Rahane & Samson: Narine has dismissed Rahane thrice in 49 balls conceding 63 runs. Samson has got out to Narine thrice in 27 balls.
Sunil Narine needs two more wickets to take 50 IPL wickets at Eden Gardens. Lasith Malinga. at Wankhede Stadium, is the only other to achieve such a feat.
RR have lost their last six IPL games at the Eden Gardens with their only win here coming in 2008.
IPL 2018 trends
RR have taken fewest wickets in the enitre tournament – 74.
KKR have scored the most boundaries (340; 225 X 4s & 115 X 6s) while RR have scored the least (256; 184 X 4s; 72 X 6s).
Likewsie, KKR have conceded the most sixes (123) while RR have conceded the fewest (71).
What they said:
“It is nice knowing we’ve played seven games already here. So we understand what the conditions are like. But come tomorrow night, we both start from scratch. So what’s happened in the past doesn’t count for too much.” KKR assistant coach Simon Katich played down the idea of ‘home advantage’ for his side!
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Predictions Coming Soon…
Posted By ‘M Lu’