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|Jofra Chioke Archer||4.0||0||33||2||8.25|
After 44 days of exciting Cricket and tussle between the eight teams, we finally have the four teams which are qualifying to the next round. Against all odds and banking on the results of the other teams, Rajasthan Royals became the fourth team to qualify for the playoffs. The Royals will lock horns with the Kolkata Knight Riders in the first eliminator match on 23rd May. The match between the two teams will be played at the iconic Eden Gardens stadium which was the home ground for KKR during the league stage. Both KKR and RR had an on-off sort of league stage, they could least afford to lose this game as the loser will crash out of the competition while the winner will go on to face the loser of the first qualifier in a bid to reach the finale. After 44 days of exciting Cricket and tussle between the eight teams, we finally have the four teams which are qualifying to the next round. Against all odds and banking on the results of the other teams, Rajasthan Royals became the fourth team to qualify for the playoffs. The Royals will lock horns with the Kolkata Knight Riders in the first eliminator match on 23rd May. The match between the two teams will be played at the iconic Eden Gardens stadium which was the home ground for KKR during the league stage. Both KKR and RR had an on-off sort of league stage, they could least afford to lose this game as the loser will crash out of the competition while the winner will go on to face the loser of the first qualifier in a bid to reach the finale.
The Knight Riders' road to the final-four hasn't been as eventful as that of the Royals. The Shahrukh Khan owned team only made its place in the knockouts by beating Sunrisers Hyderabad by 5-wickets at Hyderabad. Although the chase completed with just two balls to spare, the Kolkata Knight Riders chased down the target of 173 quite easily at the end.
The overall campaign of the Knight Riders has largely been a few wins mixed with a loss in between. Their inconsistency has been helped by the injuries they sustained in the middle of the tournament. Despite that, the consistency of Karthik and Lynn and the belligerence of Narine has helped them to finish among the top four in the tournament.
Dinesh Karthik has finished games to perfection, scoring 438 runs in the process. Sunil Narine's all-around effort has been commendable. He has scored in excess of 300 runs and has taken 16 wickets with the impressive economy rate of little over 7.5. Although Robin Uthappa has gotten starts, his failure to convert those will be of considerable concern for the management. Same has been the case with Nitish Rana since he's made his way back in after the injury.
The fact that the Knight Riders will be playing at home will be of some advantage for them. They've had a terrific record while playing at Eden Gardens and Sunil Narine has been superb with the ball here. Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, and Prasidh Krishna have been good with the ball. They've struggled with their bowling upfront in the last couple of matches, but their bowlers have covered the deficit in the death overs on both occasions.
All in all, KKR is a side which depends a lot on their youngsters to deliver. With the likes of Nitish Rana, Shubham Gill, and Prasidh Krishna in the lineup coupled with the presence of Uthappa, Narine, and skipper himself, this side is an excellent amalgamation of youth and experience. It has been tough to beat them at home this year and we do not expect anything different in the eliminator.
Chris Lynn, SP Narine, RV Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Shubman Gill, J Searles, Piyush Chawla, Prasidh Krishna, Kuldeep Yadav.
The Royals have been through a topsy-turvy journey in their road to the playoffs. After a decent start to the tournament, they lost it and were hoping for a miracle for their qualification to the next round. The promotion of Jos Buttler did wonders to their campaign and despite poor form of Rahane, Stokes, and Samson in the second half of the tournament, the Royals posted wins when it mattered the most.
In their last match, they needed to stifle Virat Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore. It wasn't an easy job, especially without the services of Stokes and Buttler, but Tripathi stood up and played a superb innings. Ajinkya Rahane played a good supporting knock and laid a solid foundation to score big in the slog overs. Some lusty hitting by Heinrich Klaasen and Krishnappa Gowtham propelled them to an above-par score on a wicket which had some assistance for the bowlers. The total was then defended by some brilliant spell of leg-spin from Shreyas Gopal and Ish Sodhi.
Although they have played sporadically, Ish Sodhi and Shreyas Gopal have been effective in almost all the matches they've played. Rajasthan Royals, however, are certainly going to miss the services of Jos Buttler who is the highest run-getter for them with 548 runs to his name. Buttler, along with Ben Stokes, has flown home for their international commitments.
Jofra Archer has added sharpness to their blunt looking bowling and he could be a handy operator against Sunil Narine. Eden Gardens pitch always has some assistance for spinners which will be tempting for Ish Sodhi and Shreyas Gopal. Overall, this unit looks well-balanced, but the lack of solid performances from their domestic batsmen might concern them. They have the momentum with them and with their recent win against RCB, no team can afford to be complacent against this highly talented Royals lineup.
RA Tripathi, Ajinkya Rahane, SV Samson, Heinrich Klaasen, K Gowtham, STR Binny, Jofra Chioke Archer, IS Sodhi, JD Unadkat, S Gopal, Ben Laughlin.
Winning the toss and choosing to field first will be on the captains' mind as the pitch tends to get better as the match progresses.
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
There have always been the chances of dew at Eden Gardens. Although, the pitch tends to get slower as the game progresses, batting second is generally easier here. However, pressure situation might just force the team winning the toss to put runs on the board. Otherwise, win the toss and bat second is the way to go here.
This Royals lineup is high on talent, but they'd certainly miss the experience of Buttler and Stokes. Samson, Rahane, and Sodhi have been around for a while in IPL cricket and they'd need to step up and play their 'A' game for Royals to get through. Kolkata Knight Riders, on the other hand, have been cruising at the moment and playing at home will be of considerable advantage for them. When the two teams met earlier in the tournament, the Knight Riders emerged triumphant on both occasions. For the above mentioned reasons, Kolkata Knight Riders are placed better to win the eliminator advance to the 2nd qualifier.