4th May 2014
DATE: 5th May, 2014
VENUE: Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera, Ahmedabad
TIME: 16:00 (IST)
Rajasthan Royals (RR) are away from their fortress of Sawai Mansingh Stadium, but they have a new fortress - Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014. Their first game at their new home venue is against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Monday. While Rajasthan are getting stronger with each passing game and are in the top tier of the IPL 2014 Points Table, Kolkata are in the other half and are yet to find their A game in IPL 7.
The first leg match between RR and KKR was an all time classic thriller that had the fans on the edge of the seats for the most part of the game. The performances of the team was so good that even the Super over ended in a draw and Rajasthan Royals only managed to win because of hitting more boundaries in the match. Steve Smith's smart shot will be remembered by the fans for a long time. The duel between the teams on Monday will be expected to be as good in terms of entertainment and KKR will be looking to avenge their defeat against the royals.
Rajasthan have backed their formula of encouraging youth and it invariably works for them every single time. In the last game, Karun Nair came to the party with a splendid knock while chasing against Delhi Daredevils, and that is a good sign for Rajasthan. They have now found a good opening partner for Ajinkya Rahane and it adds to their top order. While the opening combination is more classy and correct, they are followed by Sanju Samson and Shane Watson, men who can take the attack to the opposition. And the middle has attacking players in Stuart Binny and Steven Smith.
Rajasthan have a settled bowling attack, although they shuffle with Dhawal Kulkarni's spot. Pravin Tambe is the man who breaks the momentum of the opposition in the middle overs and even Rajat Bhatia does the job for his side. The fast bowling combination of Kane Richardson and James Faulkner is working very well for Rajasthan.
The main reason for this performance seems to be the Indian players in the team who have stepped up and shared the responsibility to carry the team towards victory. This has helped to reduce the pressure on the major players in the team. The Indian players will once again be the X factor for the success of the team.
Kolkata, on the other hand, have numerous questions surrounding their batting, which hasn't quite got going. In the last game, though they lost, the move to promote Robin Uthappa worked well and he should continue to do the job with Gautam Gambhir. Manish Pandey and Jacques Kallis are the other important men in the middle-order. But perhaps the most encouraging sign in the last game was Yusuf Pathan's return to form. They need the big hitting right-hander to do well as he has had a woeful run off late.
KKR's bowling has fared better than their batting thanks to Sunil Narine. He is the key bowler and would look to exploit the conditions at Ahmedabad. But, there also is Shakib Al Hasan who can restrict the flow of runs. Morne Morkel did not get a game last time and he may come back for Andre Russell. The form of Vinay Kumar in death overs has been consistent in last few games which is a good sign for the team.
Rajasthan are gradually building into a good side with momentum, whereas Kolkata are searching for it as they clash at Ahmedabad. Rajasthan will start as the clear favourites.
Players to watch out for:
Shane Watson: His leadership has been as good as his batting. When he strikes, he could be very helpful for the team facing bowlers like Morkel & Narine.
Pravin Tambe: His plans seem to work, his tactics are amazing. RR will be hoping that their star bowler will continue to rattle KKR's batting line-up once again.
Sunil Narine: KKR's only saving grace so far in this IPL, Narine will be ready to exploit the pitch and create troubles for the opposition.
Who will pick up the first wicket for RR?
Which player will hit the maximum number of boundaries in this match?
How many players will "bowled" out in this match?
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