Kolkata and Rajasthan face a must-win game in Dubai and Matt Harris is backing the Royals to maintain their winning run...
"Sunil Narine’s expensive displays with the ball have robbed KKR of a significant weapon."
Kolkata Knight Riders v Rajasthan Royals
Sunday, 1 November, 14:00
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
While few would have foreseen Kings XI Punjab's rise into the top four, the Knight Riders will only have themselves to blame if they miss out on a playoff slot. The squad looked light on batting at the start of the season with Chris Lynn and Robin Uthappa playing elsewhere while key overseas players Sunil Narine and Andre Russell have offered little.
As with CSK, it may be time for Kolkata to move on from their older, established players next year but, for now, they need one big push to stay in contention this season. There have been some outstanding individual performances but the middle order is offering little support to the openers. Meanwhile, Sunil Narine's expensive displays with the ball have robbed KKR of a significant weapon.
Rajasthan cling on
Rajasthan Royals had to win their final two matches to stay in with a chance of reaching the playoffs and the first challenge was met on Friday as they eased past Kings XI. It's taken too much time to find the right opening combination but the top five finally looks settled as they head into this final group match.
As is often the case, Ben Stokes is crucial to his team's chances here and not just with the bat. The England all-rounder has top scored in Rajasthan's previous two matches but his return to the bowling line up has been pivotal in providing support to Jofra Archer who cannot carry the attack every time.
Consistent Dubai plays host
The Dubai International Cricket Stadium has provided one of the more consistent surfaces in this tournament with first innings scores rarely moving too far away from their average of 172. Sunrisers' 219 against Delhi is the highest effort on this track but anything approaching 180 is likely to be a winning total.
Interestingly, Dubai has produced three Super Overs at IPL 13 while overall victories are slightly tipped in favour of the side taking first knock. The recent trend is to field first but it may be more productive to make first use of the facilities and look to target that 180 as a minimum.
KKR edge the match betting
The win market is a relatively tight one with Kolkata Knight Riders in front at 1.8910/11 while Rajasthan Royals are marginally behind at 2.021/1. It could have been closer and it's certainly a tough one to call based on overall form across the competition.
Current and former cricketers are divided as to the benefit of 'momentum' but, as we've seen in the Kings XI Punjab camp, immediate form can be a crucial factor in a discipline as unpredictable as T20 cricket. KXIP have also proved that getting selection and balance right is equally important and the Royals have belatedly done just that in their batting and bowling departments. It's another tough call but the Royals' resurgence gives them a slight edge.
Keep the faith with Samson
Sanju Samson narrowly missed out on providing Rajasthan's top batsman profit on Friday as he was needlessly run out by his skipper. His 48 still proved to be crucial and it's a second solid display in succession for the keeper/batsman.
At odds of around 4.03/1, Samson is worth persevering with in Royals' top batsman market for Sunday's game. Ben Stokes has delivered the return in Rajasthan's previous two matches and he should start as favourite at around 3.7511/4 while Steve Smith at 4.03/1 and Jos Buttler at 4.03/1 are solid alternatives.
Kolkata to snatch the most sixes market
The most sixes markets looks set to be a tight one with both teams close to the 2.01/1 mark. As a potential hedge for Sunday's game, KKR to record the most maximums will therefore offer a strong option and, with Nitish Rana in form and Eoin Morgan to come, they can deliver the profit even if they lose the game.
The tie will be a tempter at odds approaching 7.06/1 but Kolkata is the closing tip.
Matt Harris' IPL P/L
P/L: -2.29 pts
Back Sanju Samson to top score for Rajasthan Royals at 4.03/1