Kolkata, Rajasthan need to win by big margin to keep playoff hopes alive
Rajasthan Royals have been thrilling to watch and irrepressible in their last two games.
This is a virtual quarterfinal, but with piquant external implications too. If it’s a close game, Kings XI Punjab will qualify for the playoffs on superior Net Run Rate. However, if either KKR or RR wins by a big margin, they have chance to sneak into the last four.
Rajasthan Royals have been thrilling to watch and irrepressible in their last two games, winning both handsomely, chasing down tall targets set by Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab.
Ben Stokes hitting peak form, and Sanju Samson rediscovering his mojo have been RR’s standout batsmen in the past week. Robin Uthappa, Steve Smith and Jos Buttler have chipped in too, making the batting formidable.
In the bowling, Jofra Archer remains impressive. He hasn’t had even one bad game, which in a long season, is tribute to his fitness and skills both. Rahul Tewatia and Shreyas Gopal have provided splendid spin support.
With key players excelling in both departments, RR have been a team transformed from the one which was struggling for most of the league phase after starting with two wins.
The last two wins have helped RR climb to No.5 and have a shot for a place in the playoffs. It’s a must-win situation, of course, for both teams, with a piquant external implication.
The only hope for either RR or KKR reaching the last four is to win by a very big margin, which would provide a chance to sneak in. A narrow win for either would actually help KXIP, whose Net Run Rate is much higher.
Mathematically, KKR’s chances are poorer because of a low NRR, but in this format anything is possible as so many matches over the past few days have shown. A handsome win would throw a lifeline to Morgan and Co.
KKR’s problems are in the top order which for the most part this season has been dysfunctional. Young Shubman Gill has impressed with his poise and class, but he’s had inconsistent support from Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi and Dinesh Karthik which has often prevented Eoin Morgan from playing his natural game.
KKR had won the previous time the teams met this season. But to stop RR in red hot form, KKR will need more than just pleasant memories: they’ll have to play out of their skins
Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator
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