Both Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have blown hot and cold in the UAE so far. And the two former champions will be keen on bringing their Middle East campaign to a happy conclusion by ensuring that they remain in the top-half when IPL-7 returns home to India over the weekend.
The heist KKR pulled off against the Royal Challengers Bangalore was as memorable as the Chris Lynn catch that set it up. But then they messed up what should have been a comfortable run-chase against Kings XI Punjab. The Royals in contrast have run their vanquishers a lot closer, and they will come into this match buoyed by their comprehensive win over RCB, who they shot out for 70.
Under the pump
Despite his horrific travails, Gautam Gambhir is unlikely to do a Mike Denness and drop himself. But to ensure that the team owners aren’t forced into taking any such drastic measures, he will be desperate to add to the solitary run he has managed in four outings to the crease. On the other hand, KKR will be keen on promoting Suryakumar Yadav, who has stood out with his breathtaking cameos, to bulk up their flailing top-order. Even Gambhir had mentioned that the youngster deserved to ‘bat at a better number’ after his valiant 17-ball 34 against Punjab.
Kane is able
Of the many Australian pacers doing the rounds in this IPL, Kane Richardson might have been the least recognisable when the tournament started. But the lanky South Australian has grabbed eyeballs this season, and not just for his lavish beard. He has been the Royals’ main strike weapon with five wickets at 13.60 and economy rate of 6.18. And on Sunday, he got rid of Yuvraj Singh and AB de Villiers off consecutive deliveries to leave RCB reeling at 5/4.
Incidentally, Richardson had come into the XI in place of James Faulkner. His scalps have also included Glenn Maxwell and Darren Sammy. Richardson had created a stir last year at the auction after the now-defunct Pune Warriors dished out $700,000 for his services. Bought by Rajasthan for Rs 1 crore this year, he is already proving to be great value for money.
Spin to win
The phrase used often by Shane Warne during the World T20 will certainly be applicable to this contest with both teams relying heavily on their slower bowlers. Sunil Narine has been at his mesmerising best as his nine wickets for KKR, at an economy rate of 4.93, justly claims. Piyush Chawla and Pravin Tambe , both of whom use flight as a variation and prefer pushing the ball through, too have been integral components for their teams with five wickets each.
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