Finishing in third and fourth place on the IPL table this season puts Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals in a tight space, as they need to win two matches on the trot to reach the final. First up for the sides is the eliminator at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Wednesday, May 23rd. The winner gets a chance to play the loser of the first qualifier to have a chance at making the final.
The Knight Riders finished their group engagements with 16 points and a third place. The Royals sneaked past tight competition in fourth place with 14 points.
The sides have met twice in the regular season and both the matches were won by Kolkata. In the first match in Jaipur, tight bowling from spinners Piyush Chawla (1/18), Kuldeep Yadav (1/23), and Nitish Rana (2/11) to restrict the Royals to 160/8. The chase was led by Robin Uthappa (48 off 36 balls) and Dinesh Karthik (42* off 23).
The reverse fixture in Kolkata saw Kuldeep Yadav’s magic spell (4/20) limit the Royals to 142 all out. In reply, the Knight Riders overcame Ben Stokes (3/15) special spell to win by six-wickets. Chris Lynn (45 off 42) and Karthik (41* off 31) were the anchors.
Karthik (438 runs, SR 149.48) remains the top batsman for Kolkata, but all eyes will be on Lynn (425 runs, SR 131.17) who seems to have picked up form at the right time. The bowling form of Sunil Narine (16 wickets, ER 7.62) is a huge boost for the hosts.
The visitors will surely miss the runs of Englishman Jos Buttler, but Sanju Samson (391 runs, SR 138.65) and Ajinkya Rahane (324 runs, SR 119.11) will be expected to shoulder more responsibility. Bowling will be about the effectiveness of Jofra Archer (13 wickets, ER 8.38).
- Knight Riders have won five and lost once in Kolkata against the Royals.
- Knight Riders have won four of their seven home fixtures in the regular season.
- Royals have won only two of their seven away fixtures in the regular season.
- Knightrider Sunil Narine has bowled 2.28 dot balls per over, in the regular season.
- Knight Riders have reached the playoffs five times so far, reaching final twice.
- Buttler and Stokes have contributed 35% of the Royals’ runs in the league phase.
The Royals have been poor away from Jaipur this season. That opens the door for a Kolkata win, especially since they are strong at home. Back the Knight Riders to win at odds of $1.53 (Sportsbet). With the strength in their batting order and some serious power hitting at the top, the Knight Riders look like a safe bet to hit the most sixes. The form that Lynn and Narine bring to the game give them a great chance of getting Kolkata off to a hot start, back the Knight Riders to have the highest opening partnership at odds of $1.80 (Ladbrokes).
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