IPL 2021’s bottom-placed teams - Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) - take on each other in what will be their last game in Mumbai on Saturday. Both sides will look to make the most of the batting-friendly Wankhede Stadium before moving to the comparatively slower surfaces of Ahmedabad and Delhi respectively.
In what was a perfect encapsulation of their IPL 2021 season, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) trounced RR by 10 wickets in their last game. Rajasthan's top-order collapsed in the powerplay once again, with their below-par total chased down easily as RCB's Devdutt Padikkal registered a stunning ton.
The fightback by Shivam Dube, Riyan Parag, and Rahul Tewatia with the bat was the only positive, but RR’s woeful luck continued with the ECB confirming on the eve of Saturday's game that Jofra Archer will miss the entire IPL 2021. RR have now lost two games in a row, and Sanju Samson needs to stop the rut sooner rather than later.
KKR, on the other hand, are the team with the poorest run of form at the moment. They have now lost three in a row since starting their campaign with a win and fell short by 18 runs against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) last time out. While chasing 221 for victory, Kolkata looked down and out at 31/5. But the side’s lower-middle order finally fired, with Andre Russell and Pat Cummins registering swift fifties. But the late assault wasn’t enough as CSK held their nerve to win the game.
Despite the rut they find themselves in, KKR would be happy to come up against RR. They have won six of their seven matches against RR since 2018, while the overall record favors the Kolkata outfit as well. In 22 matches, KKR have beaten RR on 12 occasions, while the opposite has happened 10 times.
IPL 2021: RR vs KKR Prediction
Sanju Samson claimed after the RCB humiliation that the franchise have some homework to do after the game. It may prompt RR to make a few changes for the KKR clash, with one of them being leaving out Manan Vohra.
The under-fire opener hasn’t made it past the fourth over of the innings this season, contributing just 42 runs in the process. With horror starts in the powerplay overs costing the franchise, the time may have come to give Yashasvi Jaiswal a shot alongside Jos Buttler.
Sanju Samson needs to pull up his socks and lead from the front. A return of 26 since his stunning century in the opening game makes for grim reading, and the RR skipper has to make the most of Wankhede's wicket.
The middle-order finally fired against the RCB, albeit in a losing cause. It should give them some leeway in the upcoming games. Expect Shreyas Gopal to make way for Jaydev Unadkat against KKR, with the leggie specifically brought into the side owing to his favorable matchup in the last game.
Chris Morris will be tasked with keeping Andre Russell in check on Saturday. The South African has dismissed Russell three times in T20 cricket.
KKR, on the other hand, don’t have personnel problems but would be eager to put together a complete performance against RR. Their top-order has fizzled out after starting the tournament on a high, and Eoin Morgan will hope Nitish Rana and co. can give them a solid start on Saturday.
The skipper himself is under fire, having failed to fire this season. But RR are one of Eoin Morgan’s most favorite opponents. He has gone past fifty in four of his last five innings against the Royals, and it could be the perfect game for Morgan to play himself back into form.
KKR’s lower-order showed signs of life in the last game, and their fans would hope Andre Russell is there long enough to finish the game this time. One change could see Shivam Mavi come in for Kamlesh Nagarkoti. The latter proved to be expensive against CSK, and Mavi’s record against Samson (three dismissals in 12 balls) may prompt his inclusion.
KKR have just won just once at the Wankhede, but they are the favorites for this one. The surface suits them more than RR, and they showed their pedigree in the last game. Expect them to pound further misery on the RR and break out of their slump with a solid win.
Prediction: KKR to win