Defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders play their first away fixture of the Pepsi IPL VI season when they take on the Rajasthan Royals.
Both teams come into this fixture after beating the Delhi Daredevils in their respective opening games. While the Kolkata Knight Riders registered a convincing win in the season opener, the Rajasthan Royals held their nerves to clinch a 5-run victory at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Saturday.
The Royals are formidable opponents while playing at home; they’ve won 16 of their 25 home fixtures. However, in IPL 2012, they only managed to win half their home games and they will be aware that they need to do better to push for a place amongst the top four teams.
The Kolkata Knight Riders meanwhile are on a roll; they’ve won each of their last five matches – stretching into last season – and will be hoping to extend that run well into the season.
Monday, April 8, 2013, 8 p.m
Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
The Rajasthan Royals will be boosted by the availability of Shane Watson. Watson has been a consistent performer for the Royals with both bat and ball. However, in the initial games this season he will only be available for selection as a batsman. The Royals will be hoping that the Australian not only makes useful contributions but goes on to make those big scores.
Despite not playing any other form of cricket, Rahul Dravid looked in good touch in the opening game and was the Royals’ top-scorer. Though he pulled a muscle and did not take the field for the better part of the Daredevils’ run-chase, the Royals’ skipper has expressed confidence that he would have recovered enough to take the field in his team’s first home game. Brad Hodge, the top run-getter in the Twenty20 format, along with Owais Shah will be the other key names in the batting line-up.
For KKR, look no further than skipper Gautam Gambhir. The southpaw, a very determined character and one who believes in leading from the front, looked in good touch in the season opener and he will be keen to carry that form through the tournament.
Among the bowlers, the eight overs of L Balaji and Sunil Narine (together) and how much the opponents score of those overs, could have a significant bearing on the result. No one has bettered the art of bowling on sub-continent conditions better than Balaji, while batsmen are yet to decipher the mystery of Narine.
There’s nothing to separate the Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders where previous fixtures are concerned. Both the Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders have won five matches apiece. However barring the one tied fixture in 2009 which was won by the Rajasthan Royals in the one-over eliminator, all the remaining nine matches have been clearly one-sided fixtures.
The Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir currently shares the record for the most half-centuries in the IPL with Chris Gayle and Jacques Kallis. All three players have scored 16 50-plus scores in the IPL.
Both team’s next fixtures are scheduled on April 11. The Rajasthan Royals will next be seen in action at Pune when they take on Pune Warriors India, while the Kolkata Knight Riders will head down south to the Garden City of Bengaluru to take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore.