In terms of pure philosophy, Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders are far different from each other as much as their food habits. In Bengal, non-veg foods are served with a little more interest while the warm town of Jaipur and Udaipur can make you go gaga over a plate of Marwari vegetarian food. As both sides set to take on each other in the fifth round of the IPL 2021 in the distant outreach of Mumbai, the astonishing similarities in their playing approach will be viewed with keen interest.
It is not only the losses that haunt both sides but rather the manner in which they lost that would worry their management. Kolkata bowlers were totally out of sync from the moment Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis took the attack on them and spinners looked bereft of oomph while Pat Cummins, so far this season, hasn’t done anything with the ball to justify his price tag. It is a burden very hard to carry but the Aussie, at least, landed some lusty blows with the bat to ensure you can’t really take out of the game.
Sanju Samson played an incredible innings to kick start his captaincy journey in IPL 2021 but the bug of inconsistency that has always been a cause of concern came back to bite him in the next three games. Sure enough, he is more than capable of doing miraculous things once again but he needs to back his impact with the premium for any world-class T20 batsman - RUNS. It’s a non-negotiable.
Despite Chetan Sakariya’s rise as a reliable pacer, Rajasthan Royals, sans Jofra Archer, don’t bear a menacing look. Shreyas Gopal was brought in for Jaydev Unadkat to hit the match-up against Virat Kohli but that landed in a fool’s world as the RCB duo punished him on their way to a 10-wicket win. If they want to hold any chance in the tournament towards the backend, complacency is not something they would want in their arsenal.
KKR’s Morgan conundrum
“Everything's about process. I am going about things in an extremely positive way. I've been here a long time now. I was here on international duty a month pre-IPL. And I've been practising well and it's only a matter of time before something comes together."
Including the five T20Is that England played in India ahead of the IPL, Eoin Morgan has been going through a run drought which by default has a domino effect on the Kolkata-based side. 3 of his 4 innings in this IPL have seen him get out for a single-digit score with teams deploying spinners as soon as he comes in to bat. Never ever in a year, Morgan has a worse record than the current one and with the fragility of the KKR unit, it makes it imperative that he is back amongst the runs.
However, one can really hope Morgan returns to form against Rajasthan Royals against whom he has an incredible record. In five innings against the opposition, he has an average of 81 and an SR of 158 - his best against any team he has played in the IPL. Also, the fact that Morgan has fared the best against left-arm pacers in T20s since 2018, striking at 193.4, will be another calming factor. If there is any game that he would like to use as a launchpad, this is it.
Can Jos Buttler bat long
Fortunately or unfortunately, Ben Stokes’ injury meant Jos Buttler was back at his preferred position of opening for Rajasthan Royals - a position that made him one of the finest T20 players of all-time and certainly the most impactful. However, this season, his bat has remained majorly silent, with a couple of single-digit scores. That is surprising but there is a clear pattern established in the last two years.
In 2018 and 2019, Buttler scored a fifty once in 2 innings on an average while since IPL 2020, he has got just 1 fifty in the 10 innings he batted as an opener. His dismissal in the Powerplay phase has been a cause of concern for the 2008 Champions who have a struggling Manan Vohra to partner with him. In the first two years of joining RR, he was dismissed just 28% of times inside PP overs. However, since IPL 2020, he has been dismissed inside PP 70% of the times, something the RR man would want to avoid against the Eoin Morgan-led side.
Eventually, it will come down to who holds the aces and who plays the cards carefully - for the last few games of the IPL have given us enough indication that no one can afford to lose the steering even for a bit.