Sunday’s second match sees a clash between teams from opposite halves of the table as the floundering Rajasthan Royals face the in-form Kolkata Knight Riders at the Sawai Man Singh stadium in Jaipur.
Rajasthan’s only win in their four games have come against bottom-placed RCB, while the Knight Riders are flying high in second place. The only defeat for the men in purple this season have come in the Super Over against Delhi, and after an improbable win against RCB in their last game, they would come in to face Rajasthan with a lot of confidence.
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It has been the Andre Russell show for the Knight Riders, with the big-hitting Jamaican winning the Player of the Match trophy in each of KKR’s three victories. He has been instrumental in each innings for KKR, whether with the bat or the ball and is the highest run-scorer and wicket-taker for the team. However, the main question that should be raised is if the Knight Riders are becoming too dependent on Russell’s ability. While in the batting department, the likes of Nitish Rana, Robin Uthappa, and Chris Lynn have been sharing some of the responsibility, it is the bowling which has gaps to be filled. While the performance of the spinners (Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, and Piyush Chawla) can be termed as passable, the pace bowling has been shabby with Prasidh Krishna and Lockie Ferguson being expensive and mostly wicketless, and Sunday’s match might see one or both of them dropped for better options.
Rajasthan meanwhile, would look to hold their nerve in pressure situations against the Knight Riders, something that they have not yet been fully able to do. The top order of Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson and Jos Buttler have been firing more often than not, and the middle order of Steve Smith, Rahul Tripathi, and Ben Stokes have recently started giving good accounts of themselves. Against a less-than-impressive bowling side, the Royals would fancy their chances. However, the Royals would look to tighten their own bowling unit as well, as erratic bowling against the likes of Lynn, Narine or especially Russell could spell disaster for the team.
Here are a few key player battles to watch out for:
Jos Buttler vs Kuldeep Yadav
Jos Buttler has been in good nick in this IPL, scoring 139 runs in his 4 innings with two fifties to his name. He will be key in ensuring that the Royals get off to a good start. An important aspect of this game would be seeing how the Englishman deals with KKR’s spinners, especially Kuldeep Yadav, who has been the most potent. The chinaman has not yet exactly set the stage on fire with 3 wickets to his name at an economy of 8.71, but he would definitely be key in restricting Buttler and the rest of the Royals lineup. This is going to be one of the player battles that hold significance in tonight’s game.
Also Read: The Fantasy Guide for this match
Andre Russell vs Shreyas Gopal
Andre Russell has been THE player for the Knight Riders. In each of the 4 matches, Russell has come in the final overs of the Knight Riders innings and changed the complexion of the game. WIth 207 runs in 4 innings with an astonishing average of 103.5 and a mind-boggling strike rate of 268.83, Russell’s brutality needs to be stopped by Rajasthan if they need a chance. The key is to stop Russell before he gets going, and they would bank on Shreyas Gopal for that. The leggie has been a standout performer, with 6 wickets in 4 games at a strike rate of 12 and an economy of just 5.58. If he can restrict the run-flow from the Jamaican, he would be prone to an erroneous shot and holing out and that would be a player battle that one cannot miss.
Chris Lynn vs Jofra Archer
Chris Lynn hasn’t really got going this IPL. With just 80 runs at a strike rate of barely 114.28, barring a 43 against RCB, Lynn has been really poor. However, the Australian’s talent is well-known, and if he gets going, the KKR innings can turn into a huge bout of Lynnsanity. However, Rajasthan would hope for his poor form to continue, and Jofra Archer would be their strike bowler upfront to dismiss the left-hander. Archer has been economical this season but would hope to add to his 3 wickets by striking early into the KKR innings. This would surely one of the key player battles for the night.