On paper, Rajasthan appear run-away favourites but Kolkata can't be written off, especially if Gambhir, Kallis and Narine come to the party together. (BCCI Images)
If the Super-Over tie in their last meeting is anything to go by, another humdinger is on the cards when a victory-starved Kolkata Knight Riders face an upbeat Rajasthan Royals in the latter's 'home' game at Ahmedabad on Monday.
After no matches were given to Rajasthan's original home venue, the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur, IPL organisers allotted Ahmedabad four 'home' games of RR at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera.
The last meeting between Rajasthan and Kolkata ended in a double tie, when the teams stood level at the end of the stipulated 40 overs as well as the Super Over. The result was decided on the basis of boundary count, where the 2008 champions edged the 2012 title-winners.
Both the teams have played a game each in India since arriving from the UAE leg. Rajasthan extended Delhi's losing run with a 7-wicket win, while KKR's woes failed to end against a rampaging Chennai Super Kings who hammered Gautam Gambhir's men by 34 runs.
Rajasthan's victory extended their winning run to three games and looking at Kolkata's problems, it won't be a surprise if Rajasthan go on to register their fourth consecutive victory on Monday.
Rajasthan batsmen have hit form, with Karun Nair becoming the latest hero with his 50-ball 73 not out in the win against Delhi. Ajinkya Rahane failed in that match but is still the highest run-getter for Rajasthan. Sanju Samson and Shane Watson too have played useful knocks in RR's six matches so far, though they would want to add a bit more consistency to their innings.
Pravin Tambe and Kane Richardson have starred with the ball for Rajasthan, along with James Faulkner, the hero of the tied game against Kolkata in the UAE. Dhawal Kulkarni too has assisted the senior pacers appreciably.
In striking contrast to Rajasthan's graph this season, Kolkata have lost three games in a row now, thanks to the sorry performances of their batsmen.
Skipper Gambhir has had just one good knock so far other than five failures that included a hat-trick of ducks in the first three matches in the UAE. Adding to the problems has been the indifferent form of legendary allrounder Jacques Kallis.
A lot has been expected of Robin Uthappa and Yusuf Pathan, and though they did produce the goods against Chennai, their contributions have been far less frequent than the team would have liked.
Sunil Narine has carried KKR's bowling attack single-handedly, but the pace department led by Vinay Kumar hasn't penetrated the opposition with much effect, leading to easy runs being scored off Kolkata pacers. Shakib Al Hasan has assisted Narine well, but the specialist bowlers will have to step up with wicket-taking spells.
On form, Rajasthan appear run-away favourites but Kolkata can't be written off, especially if Gambhir, Kallis and Narine come to the party together.
With PTI inputs