Four defeats in a row. That’s where Rajasthan Royals, who have qualified into the PlayOffs, stand at the moment. A win over Kolkata Knight Riders will still seal a top-two spot for them, if they aren’t there already by match start courtesy other results, but it must not really be a comfortable place to be in. To lose steam so close to the business end of the tournament and be without a player like Jos Buttler, who’s returned home for international duties but who ironically was instrumental in a thrilling victory over KKR earlier this season, must be unsettling.

RR’s last match against Punjab Kings saw Tom Kohler-Cadmore debut and it was proof enough that Buttler is a big void to fill at the top of the order and it’ll not be straightforward for someone else to slot in right away and perform. But Shane Bond, RR’s bowling coach, maintained after the defeat that RR remained “hard to beat” and were “one better game” away from finding their mojo back.

“We are pretty good. Obviously, we are disappointed,” Bond had said. “It is never a great feeling when you are losing games in a row, then your mind plays back to what-ifs. What if we won against the Sunrisers? But you have to get some perspective too. When you look at the points table we are second. Even with the four losses in a row, we are second and we have qualified. It just takes one better game from us to turn things around and I think we are the capable ones. If we play our best cricket, we are hard to beat. We are always hard to beat.”

Winning against a team that has secured its league-topper status long back will not be easy for RR but it could just be the challenge that can fire them up and set them up nicely for a potential encore in Qualifier 1 after a day’s gap in Ahmedabad.

For KKR, it’s all been hunky-dory lately. The only match they haven’t been able to win this month is the one that was abandoned due to rain and their middle-order and spin attack seem to hit the top gear at just the right time. Now it will be all about addressing the wounds of that run-chase by RR at the Eden Gardens, a period in their campaign that saw them at their wobbliest. But having done well to recover from that and given the form they are in at the moment, the Shreyas Iyer-led side could prove to be difficult to stop at the moment.

When: RR v KKR, Match 70 on May 19 2024 at 7:30 pm local

Where: Barsapara Cricket Stadium, Guwahati

What to expect: Another pitch enabling low scores? Quite contrary to the expectations and local trends, the black-soil pitch in the last match here was low and skiddy, with batters finding it difficult to get under the ball. The weather in Guwahati has been wet leading up to this match and although a fresh pitch is in the offing, it could play very similar. The prediction on match day is for scattered thunderstorms but like with all forecasts, it’s subject to change.

Head to Head: RR 14 -14 KKR

Team Watch:


Injuries/unavailability: There are no reported injury concerns in the camp.

Tactics & Matchups: Totalling better scores when batting first would be high on RR’s agenda. Kumar Sangakkara played down the issue on the eve of the match but three of the five defeats for his side have come batting first, with their average first innings score of 172 being the second worst this season. For the opening slot, Sangakkara threw his weight behind “very very good” Kohler-Cadmore after the batter’s underwhelming initiation to IPL but also followed up with how the side has “other players also who can step up and open.”

Probable XI: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Sanju Samson (wk/c), Riyan Parag, Dhruv Jurel, Rovman Powell, Ravichandran Ashwin, Trent Boult, Sandeep Sharma, Avesh Khan, Yuzvendra Chahal [Nandre Burger/Donovan Ferreira]


Injuries/unavailability: There are no reported injury concerns in the camp.

Tactics & Matchups: KKR would ideally love a few more runs from their captain Shreyas Iyer heading into the final week of the tournament. Iyer strike-rate (135.36), boundary% (17.9) and balls/maximum (21.2) lies significantly behind the other frontline batters in the side. Rahmanullah Gurbaz should be a straight swap for Phil Salt at the top of the order.

Probable XI: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer, Shreyas Iyer (c), Rinku Singh, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Ramandeep Singh, Mitchell Starc, Harshit Rana, Varun Chakaravarthy [Impact Player: Vaibhav Arora/Suyash Sharma]

Did you know?

  • This season, RR’s win% of 40 while batting first is only better than GT and PK
  • Andre Russell is the fourth highest wicket taker for KKR this season
  • Varun Chakaravarthy is the leading spinner of the season with 18 wickets against his name

Who said what

We don’t talk about qualification, we are just playing to win a game. There’s no relaxation element there, every game counts for various things and tomorrow’s game will count a lot for us as well – Kumar Sangakkara, RR’s Director of Cricket and Head Coach

This is not the time for rest. I and the team believe that momentum is very important and we will take this as a playoff practice match and give our best – Ramandeep Singh, KKR player.

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