After delivering a string of underwhelming performances, it looks like Rajasthan Royals (RR) have gained momentum in their previous two games, especially their batting unit. Their top-order, comprising two prolific hitters-- Ben Stokes and Sanju Samson-- has fared well in recent games, increasing the franchise's chances to squeeze into the upper half of the points table.
The Steve Smith-led side will aim to continue their rich vein of form whey they lock horns with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at Dubai on Sunday. In a do-or-die game, RR will be relying on the Stokes-Samson pair to deliver when the team wants them the most. Smith's troops, at one point, were looking weary to put up a playoffs challenge. However, two consecutive victories have worked as a catalyst in their top-four heist.
After bagging Player of the Match award in last two fixtures, Stokes, arguably the best modern-day all-rounder, will be eyeing to pull off yet another miraculous innings to secure RR a playoffs berth. RR are currently sitting on the sixth spot with six wins, tied on points with KXIP, SRH and KKR. In the tussle to make it to the knockouts, each moment of the game will be crucial for all four sides.
Talking about KKR, they've been under scrutiny for delivering inconsistent performances. Constant changing and chopping along with replacing the regular skipper haven't worked in favour of the franchise yet.
In their last game against bottom-placed Chennai Super Kings (CSK), the Kolkata side had a glaring opportunity to consolidate their position in the points table. However, to their disappointment, CSK outclassed them to be a spoilsport, making the top-four race more complicated.
The Eoin Morgan-led side will be eyeing to grab two vital points and leave it to their luck and NRR for making through playoffs. They will be expecting the Nitish Rana-Shubman Gill pair to deliver at the start. While in bowling, all eyes will be on Varun Chakravarthy to produce some magic with his mystery spin.
Head to Head: Both sides were tied at 10-10 before the start of IPL 2020. However, KKR were successful in taking a lead by defeating RR earlier in the tournament. Talking about their battles in the UAE, both KKR and RR have won a game each.
- Sunil Narine hasn't lived up to expectations this season but his bowling record against RR is impressive. He has scalped 10 wickets in KKR-RR encounters so far in the IPL.
- Varun Chakravarthy has scalped 15 wickets in 12 games including a fifer.
- Despite failing to achieve consistency, Nitish Rana has scored 352 runs in 13 innings with three 50+ scores so far in the tournament.
- Shubman Gill has been the top run-scorer for KKR this season. He has amassed 404 runs so far.
- Jofra Archer, currently among the leading wicket-takers of IPL 2020, has scalped 19 wickets this year at an impressive economy of 6.69.
- Dinesh Karthik has scored 233 runs in KKR-RR matches in the IPL. He will be hoping to rise to the occasion when his side needs him the most.
- Sanju Samson has scored 374 runs this season in 13 games, including 3 half-centuries.
- The arrival of Ben Stokes has certainly reinforced the RR side. Stokes has scored 267 runs in just 7 games at a brilliant average of 44.50.