After having dominated the initial stages of the tournament, the Rajasthan Royals (RR) now face a situation where even a win against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) cannot guarantee them a playoff spot.
As per IPL rules, if two teams are tied with the same points then the number of wins and not the net run rate will decide which team goes through.
That being the case, RR will need a win and then hope for a couple of more results to go in their favor if they are to make it through to the playoffs given the fact that they will land up with only seven wins even if they do beat KKR on Saturday.
Regular captain Shane Watson decided to hand over the reins to his Australian teammate Steven Smith in their last game to focus more on his batting and bowling, but even that could not prevent the Royals from losing the match against Chennai Super Kings (CSK).
What has been disappointing for the Royals has been the fact that they have lost too many games by small margins. They lost by seven runs against the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and followed that up with a 12-run defeat against CSK.
While their bowlers have been a bit of a letdown throughout the tournament, their batsmen, apart from Ajinkya Rahane, have failed to deliver at crunch situations as well.
James Faulkner has been one of the major disappointments with the ball after the kind of World Cup he had.
A lot was expected of him with both bat and ball, but he has been extremely expensive in this tournament, going at 9.16 runs per over in this tournament and has managed only seven wickets from 11 games.
Shane Watson, who is known to be a match winner on his own, has also been disappointing with the bat having registered just one half century with the bat in eight matches so far. With the captaincy burden off his shoulder, the crowds deserve a Watson special to finish things off for the Royals.
For the Knight Riders to guarantee themselves of a qualification spot, they will need to win this match. They could qualify otherwise as well, provided results go their way and they are tied on points with RCB with a better net run rate.
They will be disappointed with the way they lost their match against the Mumbai Indians (MI).
Even though Yusuf Pathan scored a timely half century to take his team within striking distance, his dismissal in the last over cost his side the game as Piyush Chawla swung aimlessly to miss the last three balls of the innings, thereby handing MI a five run victory to keep their tournament alive.
Skipper Gautam Gambhir said after the match that his team didn’t bowl and field well in particular, but he will know deep down that it was a match, they should have won given the fact they looked in control throughout the chase.
Their over rely on Andre Russell to bring out the big shots at the end cost them the game against Mumbai and they will be desperately looking for some runs from Manish Pandey and Suryakumar Yadav to reduce the burden off Russel’s shoulders.
With the Brabourne wicket expected to offer some help to the seamers, Morne Morkel will be a key prospect for KKR while his South African team mate Chris Morris will have a big role to play for the Royals.
A loss for RR would mean curtains for them and happiness galore for KKR while the opposite will keep both teams hooked to the television for the upcoming games in anticipation of results going in their favor to aid their qualification for the playoffs.
RR – L-L-W-L-NR
KKR – L-W-W-W-L
1 Ajinkya Rahane, 2 Shane Watson, 3 Steven Smith (c), 4 Karun Nair, 5 Deepak Hooda, 6 Sanju Samson (wk), 7 James Faulkner, 8 Stuart Binny, 9 Dhawal Kulkarni, 10 Chris Morris, 11 Ankit Sharma
Dhawal Kulkarni and Stuart Binny should come back in for Rajat Bhatia and Pravin Tambe.
Kolkata Knight Riders
1 Gautam Gambhir (c), 2 Robin Uthappa (wk), 3 Manish Pandey, 4 Yusuf Pathan, 5 Shakib al Hasan, 6 Andre Russell, 7 Suryakumar Yadav, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Sunil Narine
KKR could go in with an unchanged eleven.
© Cricket World 2015