Kolkata, Apr 24: After five back-to-back losses, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) has pulled up it's socks and is ready to face Rajasthan Royals here on Thursday at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, with a complete transformation, from gameplan to match strategy.
For both teams, it will be a do-or-die situation, if they want to keep their playoff chances alive. Though KKR was dominating initially in the series, but Dinesh Karthik-led side has lost five matches in a row. They now have eight points, with four wins and six losses. Even though they are still in contention for playoffs, they need to raise their game immensely, to inflict a turnaround.
In terms of batting, KKR have stalwarts like Dinesh Karthik (C), Chris Lynn, Andre Russell, Robin Uthappa and Shubman Gill, who can garner runs, in a difficult situation. KKR needs to improve their bowling department, especially the spinners, who gathered dust at the Eden Gardens, something that was its main strength during the title-winning campaigns in 2012 and 2014.
Kuldeep Yadav, Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla have only claimed 16 wickets from 10 matches, summing up their misery. This will be second encounter between these teams in this season, with KKR winning the first one by eight wickets. While on the other hand, Rajasthan Royals will be high on confidence, as under the guidance of skipper Steve Smith, they have played some decent cricket. So far, under his captaincy, RR has lost one and won one match.
Ajinkya Rahane too smashed an unbeaten century for the Royals in the last match against Delhi Capitals. He looked at ease, after a long time. Rahane looked in fluent touch after a long time and scored 105 off just 63 deliveries. He was well assisted by the newly-appointed skipper Steven Smith, who contributed with a half-century. Like KKR, RR too loaded with explosive batsmen like Ajinkya Rahane, Steven Smith, Dhawal Kulkarni, Sanju Samson and Shreyas Gopal.
RR have lost their last game against Delhi Capitals, despite giving their best. The team is languishing at No 7 on the points table. They have to win all their remaining matches, to stay in contention. But against KKR in their own backyard, it's going to be tough to get over the hosts.
In a head-on encounter, so far, both the teams have played 20 matches. KKR have won 10 of those games, while RR have managed to win nine, with one match having ended in no result. Overall, KKR have won the title twice, while RR have won it once, in the first season. (UNI)