RR, KKR face off in must-win encounter
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)
Rajasthan Royals must be feeling an uneasy sense of déjà vu. They began the season with five wins in five games but like last year, when they appeared to be cruising to the playoffs, they have lost steam midway. Royals find themselves needing to win their last game, and yet that might not be enough.
That there has also been a change in captaincy, with Shane Watson stepping down ahead of the Chennai Super Kings encounter, has added another interesting dimension. But, with Steven Smith having stood in for Watson in the opening stages of the tournament, his elevation might not be an earth-shattering development.
Knight Riders, on the other hand, would be inclined to look back ruefully at their five-run loss to Mumbai Indians on Thursday, but will have little emotional bandwidth to do so. They know that a win would get them into the playoffs, but a defeat would leave them pinning their hopes on other results.
Both the matches played at the Brabourne Stadium thus far have been high-scoring affairs and this one isn't likely to be any different. It could well be a contest between Royals' batsmen and Knight Riders' spinners, who have contributed 35 wickets in the tournament.
Rajasthan Royals LLWLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Kolkata Knight Riders LWWWL
Watch out for…
Chris Morris has been a worthy investment for Royals, and he has contributed with both bat and ball. Besides being their second-highest wicket-taker, he has also been the most economical of Royals' bowlers. He has also scored 72 from five innings with a strike-rate of 189.47 without being dismissed once. By playing him too low down the order, Royals have perhaps not completely exploited his batting potential. A promotion in a crunch game might not be a bad idea.
Yusuf Pathan has been a revelation in this year's IPL, having shed his one-dimensional slogging in favour of a more balanced approach. He showed maturity in taking Knight Riders to the brink of victory against Mumbai, but his dismissal in the last over changed the course of the match. Marrying sangfroid with his characteristic big-hitting, Pathan could well be both the middle-order marshall as well as the finisher.
Stats and trivia
Robin Uthappa (11) is third on the list of most dismissals behind the stumps in this IPL. Wriddhiman Saha (13) and Dinesh Karthik (12) occupy the top-two positions
Ajinkya Rahane (4) is joint-second with Lendl Simmons and Shreyas Iyer, behind only David Warner (6) for the most number of 50-plus scores made in IPL 2015
"Gautam Gambhir is one of the best captains in the IPL. He always goes for wickets and not containing the batsmen. Even in the 15th or 16th over if there is a new batsman at the crease, he will have a short-leg and slip."
Knight Riders bowling mentor Wasim Akram is a fan of Gautam Gambhir's leadership.
"I doff my hat off to Watto for giving up the captaincy and taking more responsibility for his batting. It was a responsible thing to do. We all appreciate it as team men and move on."
Chris Morris on Shane Watson's decision to stand down as captain.