"Keep repeating the good things. All the good cricket you played, all the good things you are doing, and how we can get that a little bit better."

The message from our head coach Kumar Sangakkara is loud and clear. And rest assured, Rajasthan Royals will be up for a fight when we face Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL at the Eden Gardens on Thursday (May 11).

The Royals come into this tie on the back of a few unpleasant results. Having lost three matches on the bounce, the Men In Pink are out of the top four for the first time this season. But with three more matches to play, the Sanju Samson-led side can get back into the reckoning for a place in the IPL 2023 play-off with a positive result in the City of Joy. 

However, our boys realise that the job will be tough given the form that KKR comes into the match with. Having chased down 180 against the Punjab Kings in their previous encounter, the Kolkata team is also in the mix for a place in the play-off and sits in the sixth position on the IPL 2023 points table, a place below the Royals. 

Match details

IPL 2023: Kolkata Knight Riders vs Rajasthan Royals - May 11, 2023

Eden Gardens, Kolkata

7:30 PM IST

The pitch at Eden Gardens plays right into the Royals’ comfort zone. A batting-friendly surface where one can trust the pace and the bounce and get on with their shots without much trouble. The average first innings score here over the five matches this season is 205 with the Chennai Super Kings managing the highest team total here this season, 235/4.

But if the teams are judicious, the bowlers can also have their say. The middle overs can be crucial if the slow ball bowlers can get enough out of the pitch. So far in IPL 2023, the spinners have accounted for 32 wickets in 10 innings with an economy of 8.6. On a track where scoring can be an easy ask, it’ll be the spinners who will be instrumental in restricting the opposition. 

And though there’s not much to choose between the two sides with the Royals winning 12 of the 27 matches between the two, at the Eden Gardens, KKR has dominated the show with six wins from the eight matches so far.

Battle to watch out

Jason Roy vs Yuzvendra Chahal

It’s difficult to keep Yuzvendra Chahal out of a conversation about T20 cricket. One of the finest cricketers to play the format, Chahal has been a vital cog in the Royals’ machinery. Along with R Ashwin, the 32-year-old has shouldered the spin bowling responsibility with aplomb and stands on the cusp of history going into the KKR match. But what should excite many is his battle with Jason Roy. 

The Englishman has been in fine form for KKR with 218 runs in the five matches he’s played so far. But what makes him stand out is his strike rate. At around the 160 region, Roy is known to score big and score quickly. But on Thursday, he’ll have to tackle the Chahal problem. The Royals’ spin wizard has dismissed Roy four times in T20s, the joint-second-most for a bowler against the Englishman in T20s.

In the Spotlight

Shimron Hetmyer

The Caribbean hitman has been a hit at the Royals. With 218 runs in 11 innings, Shimron Hetmyer has performed his role as a finisher with great ease. But with the Guyanese batter finding it hard to get going in the past few matches, the Royals have been found wanting at the death. At Eden Gardens, it will be an opportunity for Hetmyer to find his rhythm and contribute to the team’s cause in the middle order.

Hetmyer has scored the second-most highest runs in death overs this IPL – 176 runs in 10 innings – and is especially lethal in the final over, 45 runs at a strike rate of 214. If the Royals’ hitman can get going, the team will be in good stead against another hard-hitting team in KKR.

Team news

The last match saw the Royals bring in a few changes in the playing XI with the likes of Joe Root and Murugan Ashwin getting a taste of playing in Pink. Given the position that the team finds itself in, it will be interesting to see if the management decides to revert to their tried and tested method or bank on the squad depth to see them through.

Upcoming milestones

  • Sanju Samson will complete 150 matches in IPL when he takes the field against KKR
  • Yuzvendra Chahal is one wicket away from becoming the highest wicket-taker in IPL