With their progression to the knock-out stage now more a mathematical possibility after a string of losses, holders Kolkata Knight Riders cannot afford another hiccup when take on a resurgent Rajasthan Royals at the Eden Gardens today.
Their fielders have been dropping catches, bowlers bleeding runs and batsmen struggling to put bat to ball - the Knight Riders are in a disarray after losing seven of their ten matches.
While they have been poor travellers losing all their five away games, the Knight Riders have been vulnerable at home as well, managing to win three of the five ties.
Despite their batsmen being in poor form, skipper Gautam Gambhir has not made big changes in the team. He has preferred to stick with all-rounder Jacques Kallis, who has taken ten wickets, but so far scored a meagre 186 runs from ten innings.
Explosive Kiwi batsman Brendon McCullum has been warming the benches despite being fit. The only chance that came his way was against Chennai Super Kings where he could manage just six runs.
The humiliating loss to poor performers Delhi Daredevils in the last match has further dented the confidence of the Knight Riders who are now at seventh place in the standings.
On the bowling front, barring offie Sunil Narine who has been on song, the others have failed miserably - both in taking wickets or stifling the run rate.
To make the play-offs, the Knight Riders not only have to win their remaining six matches but also hope the teams higher on the ladder lose.
On the other hand, the Rajasthan Royals, led by the ever-dependable Rahul Dravid, have been going from strength to strength, mustering 12 points from nine games to be third on the points table.
Buoyed by the red-hot form of Shane Watson, who has amassed 314 runs, including a century and an unbeaten 98, the Royals are coming to this game riding on two back-to-back victories.
Not only Watson, the other batsmen, including Dravid, have been contributing significantly to put their team in contention for the playoffs.
Their bowling armoury, comprising purple cap holder James Faulkner with 16 wickets and others like S. Sreesanth, Siddharth Trivedi and Kevon Cooper, too have been in good form.
Watson and Stuart Binny have been playing the role of all-rounders very well.
>> Shane Watson keeps his blistering form going
>> Hodge plays a cameo
>> Sreesanth does not leak runs
>> Gautam Gambhir goes early
>> Team keeps the winning momentum going
>> Batting does not mess up again
>> Yusuf Pathan makes amends for his poor run
>> Sunil Narine wrecks havoc
>> Watson departs early
>> Team gets back to winning ways
When they last met... RR’s pacers trick Kolkata
On April 8, 2013, Rahul Dravid pulled a rabbit out of his hat against Kolkata Knight Riders as he bolstered his side with five seamers at Sawai Mansingh Stadium, which eventually proved instrumental in defending a modest score of 144. After put into bat, Brad Hodge propelled them to a respectable total.
KKR, in reply, were all over the place as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Eoin Morgan was the lone fighter but he lacked support from the other end and the defending champions fell shy by 19 runs.
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