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The VIVO Indian Premier League 2018 has entered its second week as the action now shifts to the humongous Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur, where hosts the hosts Rajasthan Royals take on the Kolkata Knight Riders in Match 15. The last four days, have however seen a shift in paradigms as the previous 4 encounter saw all the four teams who batted first, put up a 190+ score and then defend it with ease, despite a few hiccups (as in Punjab’s case where they were able to keep a blistering MS Dhoni at bay). This gives a new belief to the captains in the league that the war isn’t lost at the toss itself. And two of the above four teams, Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals will go up against each at the Sawai Mansingh stadium in Jaipur.
The two teams have had ups and downs this year as both of them stand equal on the table with respect to points, winning two matches so far, with KKR being ahead on net run-rate. And the talking point about both of these teams has been their batting. If one side is backed by the sheer strength and brutality of players like Andre Russell and Sunil Narine; then the other is riding on the textbook-perfectness of people like skipper Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson. However, stars like D’arcy Short, Ben Stokes, Robin Uthappa and Chris Lynn are yet to perform up to their capabilities and prove their worth in this league.
In the bowling department, while the KKR bowlers have picked up 27 opposition scalps in four matches, with Sunil Narine leading the charts; their rivals could only manage 11 in three outings, however, they did manage to defend successfully on a couple of occasions, including a rain-marred match against the Delhi Daredevils. Spinners on both sides played an important role in their sides’ respective victories in their previous matches. While uncapped tweakers like Krishnappa Gowtham and Shreyas Gopal had a fantastic outing against an RCB lineup that had the likes of de Kock, McCullum, Kohli and de Villiers at the Chinnaswamy; Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla and Narine picked up 7 wickets between them at an economy of 7.86 in their match against DD.
The key for both the teams then lies in their bowling itself. If Russell has batted mercilessly this season and boasts of a strike rate of over 200, he, however, has shown weaknesses against the short balls. On the other side, the RR lineup looks heavily dependant on Samson, it’ll be a good contest between the so-far un-tested middle order if Narine and Co. manage to get their leading run scorer out quickly.
WHEN: April 18, 2018, 20:00 IST
WHERE: Sawai Man Singh Stadium, Jaipur
WHAT TO EXPECT: The first game here was heavily interrupted by rain but the forecast for this game reads better with zero chances of precipitation in the day and a cooler and less humid evening.
At Jaipur, RR 3-1 KKR
Rajasthan Royals: D’Arcy Short is running out of opportunities, with scores of 4, 6 and 11 so far. Heinrich Klaasen, the South African batsman will be itching to get out there and replicate the performances that he delivered against India in the ODI’s last month. But Short’s left-arm wrist spin capabilities will probably ensure that he gets to play this match, as the Sawai Mansingh stadium has really huge boundaries.
Probable XI: Ajinkya Rahane (c), D’Arcy Short, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Rahul Tripathi, Jos Buttler (wk), Krishnappa Gowtham, Ben Laughlin, Shreyas Gopal, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat
Kolkata Knight Riders: They’re unlikely to tinker with a team that has managed to win convincingly in their previous outing. However, Russell’s fitness over his hammie will be a concern though.
Probable XI: Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (c), Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Shivam Mavi, Piyush Chawla, Tom Curran, Kuldeep Yadav