Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders would strive for a handsome win over struggling Rajasthan Royals in their last round-robin game to stay ahead in the IPL play-offs race in Sharjah on Thursday.
With 12 points from 13 matches, KKR are currently sitting at the fourth position in the pecking order, just ahead of defending champions Mumbai Indians on net run rate.
If both KKR and MI win their last matches, then it will boil down to net run rate and that's where the Eoin Morgan-led side (0.294) would have an edge as it currently enjoys a positive run rate compared to the Mumbai outfit (-0.048).
KKR has been impressive in the second half and even their two defeats were narrow, where they lost in the last over.
In the batting department, Venkatesh Iyer has been the star performer in the second leg for KKR, while Rahul Tripathi too has been impressive this season. Young Shubman Gill scored a fine half-century in KKR's last match, which holds good for the team. Nitish Rana, up in the batting order, has also done well but the form of skipper Morgan remains a cause for concern.
In bowling, mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy has been the team's go-to man while Sunil Narine too has been among the wickets. In the absence of Andre Russell and Lockie Ferguson, who missed a few games following injuries, Tim Southee and Shivam Mavi are the new pace bowling pair for KKR.
Pacer Prasidh Krishna did well to snap four wickets in the matches that he had played, before being dropped for conceding 22 runs in the 19th over, against CSK.
The induction of star Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib al Hasan in the last match for the first time in the second leg, has given a new dimension to the side.
Probable XI: Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan(c), Shakib Al Hasan/Andre Russell/Ben Cutting, Dinesh Karthik(w), Sunil Narine, Shivam Mavi, Tim Southee/Lockie Ferguson, Varun Chakaravarthy
Squad: Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik(w), Eoin Morgan(c), Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Shivam Mavi, Tim Seifert, Varun Chakaravarthy, Harbhajan Singh, Tim Southee, Andre Russell, Ben Cutting, Karun Nair, Pawan Negi, Kuldeep Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Sheldon Jackson, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Rinku Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Vaibhav Arora
Rajasthan Royals are out of the race, languishing at the seventh spot in the eight-team standings with 10 points from 13 games. The team would look to dent KKR's hopes and end their campaign on a positive note. RR have been hit hard by the form of their Indian batsmen. Barring Yashahvi Jaiswal and, to some extent, skipper Sanju Samson, the team's Indian batsmen lacked intent. With Mustafizur Rahaman as their most experienced overseas signing and young Chetan Sakariya in the ranks, RR's bowling is a bit thin on experience.
Key player: Captain Sanju Samson has been in good form with the bat and will be expecting to end the tournament with a big knock.
Probable XI: Evin Lewis, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson(w/c), Shivam Dube, Glenn Phillips, David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Shreyas Gopal, Kuldip Yadav, Mustafizur Rahman, Chetan Sakariya
Squad: Evin Lewis, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson(w/c), Shivam Dube, Glenn Phillips, David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Shreyas Gopal, Chetan Sakariya, Kuldip Yadav, Mustafizur Rahman, Jaydev Unadkat, Chris Morris, Manan Vohra, Liam Livingstone, Tabraiz Shamsi, KC Cariappa, Mahipal Lomror, Oshane Thomas, Riyan Parag, Mayank Markande, Anuj Rawat, Kartik Tyagi, Gerald Coetzee, Akash Singh
Timing: Match starts at 7.30 pm and the toss will take place at 7 pm.
Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium
Betting Odds (Oddschecker):
-with agency inputs
First Published: IST