The crucial eliminator match between kKR and Rajasthan Royal will take place on Wednesday evening and Kolkata Knoght riders who is a two time IPL champion hopes to eliminate RR yet again.
The Kolkata Knight Riders have outplayed Rajasthan Royals both in the home and away games this season. If it was a seven-wicket win at Jaipur last month, KKR notched up a comprehensive six-wicket win over their rivals a week ago at Eden en route to sealing their playoff berth. With three wins on the trot, Kolkata Knight Riders are on a roll as they clinched the last-four berth for the sixth time. From posting the highest total of the season to stunning table-toppers SunRisers Hyderabad in their last match, it has been a no-nonsense approach for the Dinesh Karthik-led side.
To make it easier for them, KKR are the only team from the four qualifiers to get the home advantage in the Eliminator. The winner of Wednesday’s match will face the loser of Qualifier 1, between SunRisers and Chennai Super Kings, in Qualifier 2 also to be held at Kolkata which will decide the second entrant of the final.
Champions of the inaugural edition in 2008, Rajasthan Royals, on the other hand, have been heavily reliant on the alignment of their stars for their passage into the playoffs.
Minus their two top English star performers — Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes who were called for national duty — Rajasthan were written off by many, but they managed to beat Royal Challengers Bangalore in their final league game on May 19 to keep their slender hopes alive.
The win, however, was still not enough as they needed two results to go in their favour to qualify for the playoffs.
Their prayers were answered exactly the way they wanted when the other contenders — Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab — were eliminated after losing their respective matches and Rajasthan advanced to the playoffs in a dramatic way.
But in the Eliminator stage, which is a virtual quarter-final, there’s no margin for error and the Ajinkya Rahane-led side have to rely on their resources. (Play Fantasy cricket and win lcash daily)
First challenge for them will be to conquer the spin challenge of Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav, who haunted them with an IPL career-best 4/20 in their six-wicket defeat here.
Going through a prolonged lean patch, skipper Rahane (324 runs at 27.00) will be the key to Rajasthan’s success.