After playing two consecutive games at home, Rajasthan Royals shift their focus towards an away game, as they take on the Kolkata Knight Riders at the iconic Eden Gardens. Our last game against the Delhi Capitals was a close one as we kept bouncing back at different points of the game but Delhi took the game away from us despite our batsmen’s heroics in the first innings. The Knight Riders, meanwhile, could be a bit low in confidence after losing their five previous games with three of their defeats coming at home. The two points up for grabs are very crucial for both teams, and we could be in for some real aggressive cricket with not many games to go before the Playoffs. Rajasthan Royals have four more matches to go, and it is absolutely necessary to win all of them to have any chance of making it to the Playoffs. Another factor we will have to keep an eye on, is improving our net run-rate. Powerplay of Numbers: Our head-to-head contest against the Knight Riders is tight and we have won 9 out of the 19 games played overall in the Vivo Indian Premier League (IPL). The Knight Riders won the last time we faced off at our fortress earlier in this season and we would love to even things out by beating them at the Eden Gardens. Considering Rahane’s current form after a century in the last game, and smaller boundaries straight down the ground, our batsmen would be looking to have a go by providing an aggressive start to the innings. Traditionally, the Eden surface used to be conducive to spin, but of late, it has started favouring seam bowlers. This also proves to be a positive for batsmen, as the ball comes on to the bat better as well. Dynamic Duels: Shreyas Gopal vs Chris Lynn Shreyas Gopal has been an excellent option with the new ball for us and has managed to provide early breakthroughs for Rajasthan Royals this season. Chris Lynn isn’t known to be the best batsman when it comes to facing spin bowling as the stats suggest. In the 2 innings that they have faced each other, Gopal has managed to dismiss him on both occasions, and he would be looking to keep building that record further. Ajinkya Rahane vs Piyush Chawla Jinx treated us with his beautiful inside-out shots in the last game against the spinners. In the 10 innings that they have played against each other, Ajinkya Rahane has scored 115 of 83 balls with an impressive strike rate of 138.6 and Piyush Chawla has only managed to dismiss him once. Steve Smith vs Sunil Narine It’s been a quiet season for Sunil Narine with the ball so far, considering the number of variations that he offers along with being economical. Our skipper supported Rahane tremendously by building a huge partnership. In 5 innings that Narine and Smith faced each other in the past, Steve Smith has scored 45 with a healthy strike rate of 128.6 and Narine has only managed to pick him once. We need to look at one game at a time and focus on improving in each of the three individual departments. Our batsmen have shown brilliant composure in the past few matches and all we need to do is stick to our plans by playing good all-round cricket as a team. Halla Bol!
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