With just seven games remaining in the IPL, only one team has qualified for the playoffs. Seeing how the tournament has progressed so far, six teams are still in the hunt for a playoff berth. CSK, the only team to have crashed out from the playoffs race, are now playing party poopers as they dented KKR’s playoff chances with a 6 wicket win.
KKR did get things right with their batting, notching up their first fifty run stand for the first wicket. Nitish Rana scored a magnificent 87 off 61 balls but it was Dinesh Karthik’s 21 run off just 10 balls that KKR will be pleased with. However, the result was not what they would have wanted. CSK’s young sparkling talent Ruturaj Gaikwad scored 72 runs out of 53 balls, his second consecutive fifty, and a quick fire 11 ball 31 from Ravindra Jadeja. This CSK victory also helped Mumbai Indians become the first team to qualify for this year’s playoffs. Moreover, this has also kept KXIP, SRH and RR in the hunt for a playoff berth.
Now, the focus moves to tonight’s fixture between Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals. The last time these two teams met, RR’s Rahul Tewatia hammered down KXIP. Since then, RR’s IPL campaign has been a roller coaster ride with more defeats than victories. Punjab also struggled and were rock bottom, but once Chris Gayle walked into their playing XI, everything changed. They have won five consecutive games and are favourites to finish in the top 4 in the points standings.
RR’s problem of late has been their bowling, with the exception of Jofra Archer, no other bowler has given a match winning performance. Archer has no one to support him and teams are using this to their advantage. Most batsmen are quietly playing off his overs and going after their other bowlers. The economy of RR in the death is 11.51 and with a strong KXIP batting line up, RR would want their bowling unit to support Archer.
Coming to the batting, RR will be happy with Ben Stokes and Sanju Samson’s performance in their last game. Stokes broke the shackles and smashed an unbeaten 107 against MI which is arguably the best bowling side in the tournament. Sanju scored a brilliant 54 of 31 balls to help RR chase down MI’s 195 with 8 wickets in hand. Going into this game, they take on the likes of Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh and the two leggies, Ravi Bishnoi and M Ashwin.
KXIP batting also looks good with Chris Gayle finding his mojo back and still playing at the number 3 position. KXIP will hope for Mayank Agarwal’s return from injury and will walk in straightaway in the place of Deepak Hooda with Mandeep Singh will drop down in the batting order. Both teams are unlikely to make any changes. For both teams, losing is not an option.