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Match 25 of Pepsi IPL 2014 will see the Rajasthan Royals facing off against the Kolkata Knight Riders in the first of the return matches this season.
RR are on a roll, having registered wins in their last three matches. Since decimating Royal Challengers Bangalore in Abu Dhabi, RR have defeated KKR and Delhi Daredevils and are third in league standings. In their most recent outing, they chased down 156 in clinical fashion, not once allowing the required run-rate to go out of hand.
The Kolkata Knight Riders need to lift themselves after finishing on the wrong side of the result in their last three matches. Since defeating RCB, they have dropped games against Kings XI Punjab, RR and Chennai Super Kings. In their most recent outing, the bowling unit did well to restrict CSK to 148, but the batsmen – barring Robin Uthappa and Yusuf Pathan – did not turn up.
Monday, May 5, 2014, 4 pm IST
Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad
Skipper Shane Watson and Ajinkya Rahane are the undoubtedly the two most important players in the Rajasthan Royals ranks. However, given the dynamics of the team, the lesser-known players often step up and deliver match-winning performances. The immensely talented Sanju Samson, who bats at the crucial No.3 position, has played impressive cameos. The 19-year-old will be expected to convert those cameos into match-winning efforts. One man at the other end of the age spectrum – 42-year-old Pravin Tambe – keeps getting better by the day. After going wicketless in the first two matches, the leg-spinner has picked up nine wickets in the following four matches to become the team’s most successful bowler. He will continue to be an important cog, given that the surface in Ahmedabad is known to assist spinners.
For the Kolkata Knight Riders to do well, they will need a big knock from Gautam Gambhir, Jacques Kallis, Manish Pandey or Robin Uthappa. Each one of those players have had one or two good outings so far this season, and with competition for Playoff spots getting intense, it is crucial that the four experienced lads stand up and deliver. On the bowling front, one doesn’t have to look beyond Sunil Narine who has been unplayable. Not only does the Trinidadian get wickets, he also ties batsmen down and therefore forces them to take risks against other bowlers.
Notes from Previous match
Rajasthan Royals v Delhi Daredevils: After the Delhi Daredevils got off to a blazing start by scoring 46 runs in the first six overs, the Rajasthan Royals pulled things back spectacularly; they only conceded 48 runs in the middle overs. The other positive to emerge from the match was the arrival of Karun Nair, who shrugged off poor form to guide his team home in the run-chase with a composed innings of 73*.
Kolkata Knight Riders v Chennai Super Kings: The KKR coach Trevor Bayliss will have noted a couple of areas his players could work on. First up, the bowlers did not hit the right lengths in their match against CSK. There were at least five overs of short deliveries bowled and the CSK batsmen took full advantage of them by scoring 62 runs. To put things in perspective, off the remaining 15 overs, the CSK batsmen only managed 86 runs. When it was their turn to bat, the KKR batsmen could have made better decisions where choice of shots was concerned.
By virtue of their win in the Super Over – that decided the match between these two teams in Abu Dhabi earlier this season – the Rajasthan Royals have a 7-6 win-loss record against the Kolkata Knight Riders.
The Rajasthan Royals have an impressive record in IPL matches at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad; they’ve won 3 of the 4 matches played there previously.
KKR have the most successful spin bowling attack in Pepsi IPL 2014; their spinners have picked up 18 wickets at a strike-rate of a wicket every 18 balls and have leaked runs at a rate of 6.50.
Kolkata Knight Riders head to the national capital to take on the Delhi Daredevils on May 7. Rajasthan Royals, meanwhile, will remain at Ahmedabad and host Sunrisers Hyderabad on May 8.
With five wins from six games, the Chennai Super Kings are perched at the top of the Pepsi IPL 2014 points table. The MS Dhoni-led side has carefully worked its way to the top and is cautious to not let complacency set in.
While the team has fired on all cylinders to garner 10 points in the tournament so far, it is only their net run-rate that separates them from Kings XI Punjab who are currently placed second. Ahead of the team’s match against Delhi Daredevils at the Ferozeshah Kotla on May 5, coach Stephen Fleming addressed the media prior to their training session on Sunday afternoon. Speaking about the team’s performance, Fleming credited Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith for their contributions. Brought into the side ahead of the season, both batsmen have played a crucial role in setting up the matches in their team’s favour.
Speaking about McCullum, with whom he has shared space in the new Zealand dressing room, Fleming said, “It’s been very good. I have enjoyed my time with him in the New Zealand side. He was obviously pretty young then, but he has developed well; he is now our national captain and is playing some great cricket and we were delighted to get him because he brings a number of things with him, and not just runs. He has leadership qualities and he has an energy about him which is infectious. Then there is also the running between the wickets in combination with Dwayne Smith. And along with Faf du Plessis and the Indian fielders, there is real electricity in the field. His runs and the opening partnership has certainly been one of the highlights.”
He was equally delighted with Smith’s form and contribution. “We were obviously delighted to get him in our team. He had hit us (for runs) when he played against us. So, one way to stop him was to buy him. We were very happy to buy him and get rid of that headache,” he said.
But on a more serious note, he was full of praise for the West Indian's cricket sensibilities. “He is a wonderful player and he has surprised me with his intelligence. And I don’t say that disrespectfully. But his intelligence towards the game (is great), he is a very good reader of the game and along with Brendon McCullum they have created a good partnership so far. I think we all know that form can be a bit fickle in the Twenty20 format, but so far they have been incredibly consistent and that is one of the main reasons we have done so well,” he added.
Speaking about his team’s run in the IPL this season, coach Stephen Fleming said, “It’s been going well so far. We have played a good game of cricket but there is still a long way to go. We have been in positions where we realise how quickly things can change.”
While he said, “There is a nice mood in the camp, still very determined to keep playing well,” he added a note of caution and mentioned, “We know that we can’t relax at any stage. It’s not an easy game.”
“If you ask me, we have won five out of six, so I would take it any time. Perennially, we have been slow starters. So to get a start like this has been excellent. It has been good. there is a lot of hard work that goes in picking the side and getting the dynamic right. We have been lucky with our selections and have been repaid for our faith already. It has been a good feeling in the camp and also there is a realism around the stop-start nature of form within the IPL.”
“For most departments it has been going well; our fielding has been excellent and the batting has been good. We are always cautious while making statements like that, but at this stage the way things are going in all departments, it is good,” Fleming concluded.