Jaipur: After notching up victories in their tournament openers, both Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals will be keen to extend their winning streak when the two teams lock horns in their IPL 6 match here on Monday. While defending champions KKR beat Delhi Daredevils comprehensively by six wickets in a low-scoring match in the tournament opener, Rajasthan prevailed in a five-run win over the same opponents in their first game on Saturday.
KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir and spinner Sunil Narine were instrumental in scripting a thumping win for their team. Narine snapped four wickets for just 13 runs to restrict Delhi to a paltry 128 in 20 overs, after which Gambhir hit 41 off 29 balls to set the tone for the rest of the batsmen to take the team home with eight balls to spare. Both Narine and Gambhir were phenomenal in the last edition of the IPL and helped their team lift the trophy for the first time.
Besides these two, KKR have ample talent in both the batting and bowling departments. Jacques Kallis, Manoj Tiwary, Eoin Morgan and Yusuf Pathan all have the potential to deflate Rajasthan's bowling attack which looks mediocre. Brett Lee is the spearhead of their pace attack while adding variety to the attack will be L Balaji and allrounders like Kallis, Rajat Bhatia and Laxmi Shukla.
Though Rajasthan skipper Rahul Dravid struck a 51-ball 65 and Stuart Binny chipped in with quickfire 40 off just 20 balls, the fact that they just managed to scrap through against a depleted Delhi side will play on their minds. Both openers Ajinkya Rahane (28) and Kusal Perera (14) got starts but failed to convert them into big scores. Despite Dravid, Rahane and Binny in good nick, Rajasthan were unable to give a surge to their innings in the last few overs. The hosts, however, would be boosted by the presence of Shane Watson, who is expected to take the field on Monday.
Rajasthan's bowling was devoid of sting and had it not been Kevin Cooper (3 for 30) who bowled a superb final over when Delhi needed only nine runs from the last over, defeat appeared a distinct result. Sreesanth was economical but Samuel Badree and Siddharth Trivedi were taken to the cleaners. The hosts will hope that their bowlers put up a better effort against the formidable KKR batting line-up.
Rajasthan are sweating over the fitness of 40-year-old Dravid who pulled a calf muscle on Saturday and did not field for the better part of the Delhi run-chase. The former India captain though had assured that he would try his best to play against the KKR. "It was severe bout of cramps. I will do everything to play the next match (against KKR) but I need to see that how I get up tomorrow and if there's any stiffness," Dravid had said after the match against Delhi.
KKR exhibited a sparkling allround performance against Delhi and would look to fire in unison once again at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. Rajasthan will have to raise the bar if they want to thwart the defending champions. The hosts can take confidence from the fact that they had beaten KKR by 22 runs at the same venue a year ago in previous edition of the cash-rich event.
Rajasthan Royals: 1 Rahul Dravid (capt), 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Stuart Binny, 4 Shane Watson, 5 Ashok Menaria, 6 Brad Hodge, 7 Kevon Cooper, 8 Kusal Perera (wk), 9 Sreesanth, 10 Siddharth Trivedi, 11 Ajit Chandila
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 2 Manvinder Bisla (wk), 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 Manoj Tiwary, 5 Yusuf Pathan, 6 Eoin Morgan, 7 Laxmi Shukla, 8 Rajat Bhatia, 9 Brett Lee, 10 Sunil Narine, 11 L Balaji