Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - KKR aim to stack up qualification odds in their favour. Morgan will once again bank on his spinners to do the damage.
Morgan will once again bank on his spinners to do the damage.
Kolkata Knight Riders and Net Run Rate go a long way back. Think back to 2010, 2019 and then 2020 again when a poor NRR cost them a place in the playoffs. In fact, after winning their last league match in 2020, captain Eoin Morgan had left their qualification “up to the Gods”. While that plan never materialized, Morgan will be glad that KKR look much more in control of their fate this time around. All they need is a win against Rajasthan Royals on Thursday (October 7) to stack up the qualification odds in their favour. Their NRR, which has been a nemesis over the years, is likely to be an ally going into the next few days.
In contrast, the qualification chances for RR are slim after their heavy defeat to Mumbai Indians in Sharjah. They now need to beat KKR by a margin of around 125 runs and then hope that Sunrisers Hyderabad go on to beat MI by around 40 runs on Friday. It's a position KKR know well over the years and all they would need is to sus the slow and low conditions of Sharjah soon enough: bowl straight and hard lengths, bat in the V. It was exactly what RR weren't able to do against MI and shot themselves in the foot as a result.
When: KKR vs RR, Match 54, October 7, 2021, 7:30 pm IST
Where: Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah
What to expect: Another team winning the toss and opting to chase in slow and low conditions.In five of the seven games in Sharjah this season, teams chasing have won and should Morgan win the toss, it would augur perfectly for his side who haven't lost chasing in the UAE this season. Expect another good game for the seamers who are enjoying the best average and strike rate here of all the three venues in the UAE.
Head to head: KKR 12 – 11 RR. The last time these two sides met, RR chased down KKR's 133/9 with seven balls to spare in Mumbai. Chris Morris (4 for 23) and Samson (42* off 41 balls) were the focal points of that six-wicket win.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Injured/Unavailable: Both Andre Russell and Lockie Ferguson have started training and are “firing in full cylinders” but their match fitness is anybody's guess.
Tactics and match-ups: MI's trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jimmy Neesham (who had come in for Krunal Pandya) proved tough to negotiate in Sharjah the other night, and that could tempt Morgan to sway away from his 2 pacers-3 spinners combination and bring in Ben Cutting for Shakib Al Hasan, with Nitish Rana available to fill in the spin overs if needed. If Andre Russell is match-fit, he comes straight in.
Morgan likes to give Sunil Narine an over inside the powerplay and he's expected to continue the trend thanks to Evin Lewis's susceptibility to the spinner (82 balls, 69 runs, 6 dismissals in all T20s). Narine also enjoys a good record against Samson, so expect another over inside the first six if the RR captain comes in early.
Probable XI: Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan(c), Shakib Al Hasan/Andre Russell/Ben Cutting, Dinesh Karthik(w), Sunil Narine, Shivam Mavi, Tim Southee/Lockie Ferguson, Varun Chakaravarthy
Injured/Unavailable: Evin Lewis shot an inside-edge on his left ankle against MI and needed to be tended by the physio. He will need to prove his fitness but other than that, there are no injury concerns in the camp.
Tactics and match-ups: Chris Morris hasn't been picked since his 0/50 against Royal Challengers Bangalore, niggle or not, but could be in with a shout. The fast bowling all-rounder has picked 19 wickets across 13 games against KKR, averaging 18 and enjoying a strike-rate of 15. His height, a la Coulter-Nile, could come in handy on the Sharjah surface.
Lewis and Yashasvi Jaiswal have been the fastest-scoring opening pair in this edition and how they cope KKR's early influx of spin in the powerplay could shape the contest, given RR's non-performing middle order that's failed to rally around Samson. Back to Liam Livingstone for David Miller then? It's not totally off the radar.
Probable XI: Evin Lewis, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson(w/c), Shivam Dube, Glenn Phillips, David Miller/Liam Livingstone, Rahul Tewatia, Shreyas Gopal, Kuldip Yadav, Mustafizur Rahman, Chetan Sakariya
Did you know?
David Miller averages 22 and has a strike rate of only 119 in 39 IPL innings since 2016
Morgan has had a terrible 2021 in terms of T20 returns but the KKR captain enjoys an average of 61 and an SR of 158 against RR and had hit three fifties in total
KKR's spinners have picked 28 wickets this year as compared to nine wickets by RR's.
What they said:
On pitches like this, it tests out not just your skill, but your flexibility and your mindset. So at times playing on pitches like this is not a bad idea. It's not the greatest T20 pitch in terms of runs, but it is a challenging pitch in terms of coming to terms with it and playing on it. It's an experience: Kumar Sangakkara on the Sharjah pitch
We are focused on playing good cricket and we've done that in the last three weeks. The game plan has had a good impact in the dressing room and guys are putting their hands up. We have done well to adapt to the slow conditions and I'm happy with that: Eoin Morgan on what's working for KKR