Commentator Aakash Chopra generally uses a phrase while commentating, “Fielders become spectators, spectators become fielders” when a batsman sends the ball out of the park. He might have to use this again and again on Wednesday when Rajasthan Royals take on Kolkata Knight Riders in Jaipur. The hosts have Sanju Samson who has been in sublime form and showed his capability in the last match against Royal Challengers Bangalore where he scored a blistering 92* off 45 that included 10 sixes and a couple of boundaries.
Samson’s knock was all about smashing all the bad deliveries that came in his way towards the boundary rope. But if the home side have Samson in the line up, then KKR have three major stroke-makers. With Sunil Narine at the top and Nitish Rana and Andre Russell in the middle order, scoring runs at a quick rate can never be a problem for the Kolkata franchise.
Rana showed great character against Delhi Daredevils after notching up a half-century against them while Russell was once again brutal with the willow. He struck 41 off12 before missing a yorker from Trent Boult. As far as the batting is concerned, KKR have a slight edge over Rajasthan. Apart from Narine, Russell and Rana, they have a packed batting list that includes Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik and youngster Shubman Gill. Gill though needs to prove his ability with the bat as he hasn’t been among the runs so far. KKR might look to alter their batting line up a bit and promote the youngster up the order to test his skills.
With some star batsmen in the sheet, KKR have bowlers who can turn the game on its head single-handily. Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla, and Kuldeep Yadav did a good job for them against DD as Kuldeep and Narine shared a total of 6 wickets out of 10. They also have three seamers in Shivum Mavi, Andre Russel, and Tom Curran. Youngster Mavi impressed everyone after he sent DD captain Gautam Gambhir packing in the last encounter.
Rajasthan on the other side is banking upon Sanju Samson and Ajinkya Rahane to provide them with some quick runs. The side won’t be looking to make any changes in the winning combination but can rehash the starting XI a bit. Rahul Tripathi might open for them instead of D Arcy Short. Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler have the ability to chip in with some runs quickly and one of them needs to play the role that Russell has played for KKR with the bat so far. The Ajinkya Rahane-led franchise have a talented bowling unit with Jaydev Unadkat, Dhawal Kulkarni and Krishnappa Gowtham in it. Stokes too is hand with the ball.
KKR only needs to capitalise on the start they get. In the last match against DD, they lost three wickets and scored only one run in last over. For Rajasthan Royals, the other batsmen need to replicate what Samson has done for them so far.
Player to watch out for
With a doubt, RR’s Samson is one player to watch out for while his teammate Rahul Tripathi can be someone to watch out if promoted up the order. For Kolkata Knight Riders, Nitish Rana has shown his mettle in the last game while Russell has been scoring runs at a brilliant rate. In bowling unit, Kuldeep and Narine are the two spinners that can help KKR carry the momentum forward.