Dubai: Kolkata Knight Riders’ mystery spinners must be licking their lips in anticipation as they take on Rajasthan Royals in their final group game in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Thursday.
With Mumbai Indians breathing down their necks, Kolkata need to win against Rajasthan and make it a mammoth task for the defending champions to enter the play-off stage as the fourth team.
Kolkata could not have asked for a better venue as the new Sharjah pitch is extremely bowler friendly and the last few matches have produced extremely low scores considering the Twenty20 scheme of things.
Varun Chakravarthy, Sunil Narine and Shakib Al Hasan are capable of spinning a web around the inexperienced Rajasthan batting line-up, that has consistently failed to fire, excepting the odd game against Chennai Super Kings on a good batting surface in Abu Dhabi.
Another positive news for Knight Riders is that ace West Indian all-rounder Andre Russell has resumed his training after recovering from a hamstring injury suffered against Super Kings in Abu Dhabi. His return could not have come at a better time with Kolkata desperately needing to get the two points in their kitty to retain their fourth position.
Kolkata’s batting has been firing on all cylinders with all top batsmen getting among the runs barring captain Eoin Morgan, who is due for a big knock before long.
In the earlier match in Dubai, Super Kings will take on the inconsistent Punjab Kings in a bid to end their two-match losing run in the final stages of the league.
After booking their place in the play-offs, Chennai’s stunning run ended at the hands of Rajasthan and they also suffered a narrow loss to Delhi Capitals subsequently. Chennai skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni must be aware that the Yellow Lions need to win the game against Punjab to regain the winning momentum as they head into the qualifiers.
It should be just another day at the office for Kolkata and Chennai as they seek to end up in the winners’ column. But the IPL, historically, is known to throw up surprises. Should we need to brace up for any more?