IPL 2021: KKR face RR in a battle of basement dwellers
At the centre of the crisis for both teams has been the form of the respective captains
Not much has gone right for these teams since the season began. If the Kolkata Knight Riders are two notches higher on the points table currently from the last-placed Rajasthan Royals, it is only because of their furious late order assault on the Chennai Super Kings bowlers.
With a flurry of sixes and fours, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik and Pat Cummins revived a match that looked lost in the power play itself after the top-order collapse.
MS Dhoni’s team, however, held their nerve to win that match.
In a way, the Royals put up a similar performance against the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Thursday night.
Reeling at 18-3 with mainstays Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson among the batsmen dismissed, they recovered through the middle and late order to post 177.
This was never going to be enough on a Wankhede featherbed against a powerful, in-form RCB line-up.
But it would have been a different story had Rajasthan played to their potential.
Barring the odd match, both RR and KKR have underperformed, primarily because of the failure of the top-order, leaving the bowlers very little scope to pull things back.
At the centre of this crisis for both teams has been the form of the respective captains. Eoin Morgan and Sanju Samson haven’t been able to score runs consistently and inspire their teams.
Morgan hasn’t played a single substantial innings so far. Samson started with a brilliant century (119) against Punjab, but since then his form has waned. The Kerala player has been dismissed due to a series of poor shots which has both frustrated and infuriated his supporters.
One must, however, feel for Samson, as the Royals have lost two of their best players. Jofra Archer has been ruled out of the tournament, and Ben Stokes had to return home after just one match. Among other star players, Buttler has also messed up decent starts.
Rajasthan’s best performers have been young Indian players Shivam Dube, Rahul Tewatia and particularly left-arm pace bowler, Chetan Sakariya.
Riyan Parag has shown glimpses of why he’s rated highly on the domestic circuit, but the Assam youngster needs to develop more consistency.
Kolkata on paper look the stronger team. Their international players have performed relatively better, though obviously far more is needed from Morgan with the bat, and from Cummins with the ball.
Russell remains an enigma, but Sunil Narine, who got an opportunity in the last match, put up a better bowling performance than Shakib Al Hasan.
The crux issue, however, is how well the top-order of Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi and Morgan performs.
The Wankhede Stadium has produced batting friendly pitches so far. All 200-plus scores this season have come at this venue, so it is reasonable to expect another high-scoring match, if not a slugfest like the one between CSK and KKR the other night.
Players To Watch Out For:
KKR: Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik, Pat Cummins
RR: Rahul Tewatia, Chetan Sakariya, Chris Morris
RR vs KKR
6pm UAE Time
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