After a thrilling finish to their game against Kings XI Punjab which saw Rahul Tewatia becoming a househould name with five sixes in an over off Sheldon Cottrell, Rajasthan Royals would aim to bank upon momentum when they take on the Kolkata Knight Riders. The side put on totals above 200 in both of their matches - however, they have only played in Sharjah so far. The match against KKR will take place in Dubai.
Kolkata Knight Riders, meanwhile, had a dull start to the tournament but recovered quickly to secure a dominant win over Sunrisers Hyderabad. Youngster Shubman Gill stepped up in the low-scoring game as KKR chased the 143-run target with two overs to spare. With a win tonight, Dinesh Karthik's men can go into the top-4.
In their successes so far, the Royals have found two stars in Sanju Samson and Rahul Tewatia, who have outshone marquee players. In his second coming at the Royals, little known Haryana all-rounder Tewatia has got instant stardom for his 31-ball 53 against KXIP, which helped the side chase down a record 224 with three balls to spare against KXIP.
Struggling to get off the blocks quickly, Tewatia, who was on 17 from 23 deliveries with the team needing 51 from the last three overs, suddenly woke up from the slumber, smacking left-arm quick Sheldon Cottrell for five sixes in an over to turn the tables for RR.
But the season so far belongs to Samson -- the wicketkeeper from Kerala. Boasting of the season's highest strike-rate of 214. 86, Samson has two successive half-centuries that has once again put him in contention for a longer rope in the Indian team as a keeper-batsman.
Kolkata Knight Riders boast of firepower in their batting order to match Royals' power-hitters, with players like Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell in the middle order. However, both have had limited opportunities so far. While Morgan did play a key role in the second match to see KKR throught to win against SRH, Russell has batted in only one game, coming out to bat when the side needed 119 runs to win in 56 balls.
Their batting position has been a point of debate -- Russell's in particular, after the West Indian himself had reservations over the same in the previous season.
However, Shubman Gill's performance against SRH gives the team management a big boost ahead of RR clash. Gill, who is touted to take a central role in KKR with the bat, showed remarkable patience and class for his unbeaten 70 in the run-chase against the Sunrisers.
Among bowlers, Pat Cummins made a brilliant comeback, bowling at an economy rate of 4.75 and also picking up the key wicket of Jonny Bairstow early in the match. KKR were further boosted with the arrival of Kamlesh Nagarkoti, who compliments the pace attack including the likes of fellow youngster Shivam Mavi and Russell.
It may well be a run feast later tonight but no target is 'safe' against the Royals. Dubai has been host to both the Super-Over matches this season. The venue will be an unchartered territory for both the teams who will be playing here for the first time this season.
For the record, the teams batting first have won all the five matches here so far.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (C and WK), Andre Russell, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, Siddhesh Lad, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Eoin Morgan, Varun Chakravarthy, Tom Banton, Rahul Tripathi, Chris Green, M Siddharth, Nikhil Naik, Ali Khan.
Rajasthan Royals: Steve Smith (captain), Jos Buttler, Robin Uthappa, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Manan Vohra, Kartik Tyagi, Akash Singh, Oshane Thomas, Andrew Tye, David Miller, Tom Curran, Aniruddha Joshi, Shreyas Gopal, Riyan Parag, Varun Aaron, Shashank Singh, Anuj Rawat, Mahipal Lomror, Mayank Markande