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Both the Rajasthan Royals and the Kolkata Knight Riders are going into this match on the back of a brilliant batting performance in their last match. Rajasthan Royals outgunned a strong RCB lineup while KKR decimated the Delhi Daredevils. Both teams have witnessed a strong start to the tournament and will be keen to build on this foundation. With similar strengths and weaknesses for the teams, we have a feeling that they will fight till the end to crown a clear winner.
The Royals are back on their home turf where they started off with a win against the Delhi Daredevils. That match was a rain-affected one and did not tell us too much but it looked like the Rajasthan Royals will get a flat batting deck to their linking for most of the matches.
The Royals have struggled with their opening combination in the matches so far. Darcy Short has either got run-out quickly or struggled to get the pace of the wickets. He is a player that can really make a huge difference in T20 cricket but needs to give himself that extra bit of time in the beginning.
Ajinkya Rahane has also been in the spotlight for having to score faster. The T20 game has evolved to such a point where teams now go hard at all kinds of bowling no matter the number of wickets lost. With the slowest strike rate of the top-7 batsmen in his team, Rahane is under pressure and he showed that in the last game by being ultra aggressive.
Rajasthan Royals needs its opening pair to find a balance and start scoring runs otherwise they could find themselves in trouble down the line.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, though, is Sanju Samson. He is the leading run scorer of the tournament so far and is absolutely crushing the ball. His 92 not out in the last match was flawless and showed an ability to start fast, keep the momentum through the innings, and then end with a flurry of sixes.
His will be the main wicket in this match. With players like Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, and Rahul Tripathi to follow, this Rajasthan Royals batting lineup is very dangerous.
Their bowling is going to be a worry throughout the tournament especially when they do not have the buffer of a strong score set by their batsmen. Ben Laughlin has been very difficult to hit with his mix of slower deliveries and looks likely to pick most wickets.
We don’t think the Royals have a great set of spinners but they will definitely gain in confidence after a good performance last week.
Ajinkya Rahane, D'Arcy Short, SV Samson, BA Stokes, Jos Buttler, RA Tripathi, K Gowtham, S Gopal, DS Kulkarni, JD Unadkat, Ben Laughlin.
KKR came in for a lot of flack after their defeat to SRH but they turned it around against the Delhi Daredevils. A slow start where Narine failed and Lynn struggled for timing was rectified by Uthappa, Rana, and Russell.
With the first over and the last over of their innings not going for any runs, KKR basically scored 200 from 18 overs with ease. A large part of their success comes down to the fact their batsmen were able to hit 15 sixes in their inning and ensured that the Delhi Daredevils were up against it at all times.
Can KKR repeat that same sort of batting performance against the Rajasthan Royals? We think so. The Rajasthan Royals do not have the strongest bowling attack and the pitch is expected to be full of runs.
We also think that Chris Lynn could be the person to watch out for. He seems to have struggled for his timing in the last two matches and is due for a big one. For a player that is regarded as one of the most fearsome hitters in the entire world at the moment time spent in the middle is crucial and it is just a matter of time before he comes into his own.
KKR also seems to have struck gold in picking Nitish Rana at the auction. He has been brilliant in almost every match that KKR has played this season and is showing signs of being one of the breakout stories of this IPL. Rana is being talked about as a potential replacement for Suresh Raina in the Indian team and all that will only motivate him to do better from here on in.
Dinesh Karthik is exuding new found confidence in his role as a finisher and Andre Russell is doing what he does best. Russell smashed 6 sixes in his first 11 deliveries in his last inning and has already won KKR two matches with his batting. His bowling is also back to his being fast and menacing.
The bowling lineup of Mavi, Curran, Kuldeep Yadav, Russell, and Chawla has the potential to be good or very expensive. Sunil Narine is the one bowler that you can count on being reliable. This is the area where Rajasthan Royals will feel they have a chance and this is where KR will have to be very careful.
We loved the pace and fire that Mavi showed in his first match. He is someone who should be persisted with for sure. He and Curran are a better fast bowling duo than when Mitchell Johnson is thrown into the mix.
Chris Lynn, SP Narine, RV Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik, Andre Russell, Shubman Gill, Tom Curran, Piyush Chawla, Shivam Mavi, Kuldeep Yadav.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
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No rain has been forecast for this match and we should be able to get a full game in without any trouble. It will be interesting as to what the team tactics are since both teams have tasted success batting first in their recent matches.
The pitch is going to be flat and come on the bat nicely. This is probably the best time for the batsmen to make their mark on the tournament. Scores of around 170 should be considered par at the venue.
The Rajasthan Royals have only lost one match in their last five contests with KKR. One of those matches was abandoned due to rain and one was tied, though. Rajasthan also has the best home record for all teams in the IPL.
In this match, though, we are backing the red-hot KKR team to win because they seem to have more players that are at the top of their game.
Back the Kolkata Knight Riders to win.
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