Rajasthan Royals v Kolkata Knight Riders: Royals can contain Russell and co on home turf

Rajasthan Royals cricketer Jos Buttler
Jos Buttler is a reliable top-scorer pick for Rajasthan

Andre Russell is destroying one bowling attack after another but, previewing tomorrow's match in Jaipur, Paul Krishnamurty reckons he and KKR are due a failure...

"As implied by the runs bet, Kolkata may be flattered by Russell's heroics."

Back Under 180.5 Kolkata Runs 5u @ 1.834/5

Rajasthan Royals v Kolkata Knight Riders
Sunday, 15:30 GMT
Live on BT Sport and Star Gold (Sky Channel 729)

Don't write off Rajasthan yet

Royals are off the mark and bottom place after beating fellow strugglers RCB - deservedly so having been unlucky and performing well in previous defeats. Play-off regulars in recent IPL appearances, there is still plenty of time to recover from a slow start.

There is definitely scope for improvement, too. Neither Jofra Archer or Ben Stokes have been seen to anything like best effect with the ball yet, with Shreyas Gopal very much the star in that regard, boasting six wickets and a 5.58 economy rate.

Are KKR flattered by unsustainable Russell brilliance?

What is left to say about Andre Russell - whose latest gamechanger was 49 off 13 to chase down a big RCB total. The Windies all-rounder has hit four superb innings from four and won man of the match on the basis of three of them. He's already compiled 207 runs at an average of 104 and incredible strike-rate of 269.

The problem for KKR is that, realistically, he can't maintain that rate and won't be around in the latter stages. Without those four innings, they could easily be in Royals' position.

To be fair Russell hasn't done it all on his own. Natish Rana and Robin Uthappa have contributed over 300 runs combined. KKR's bowlers have been surprisingly expensive but we must expect Kuldeep Yadav and Sunil Narine to impact sooner or later.

Par looks around 170

Jaipur has always been one of the most consistent grounds regarding run totals and this season is proving no exception. In nine matches here since Rajasthan's return to IPL last year, every total was between 151 and 184, with seven landing in between the 150 and 170 bands.

On that reckoning, the Kolkata run line looks too high at 180.5. That total was only breached once during the aforementioned period.

Royals slightly preferred at home

There is no demonstrable toss bias at Jaipur - chasers won only four of the last nine so watch out for an early market over-reaction.

KKR start favourites at 1.8810/11, which fairly reflects their supremacy in the points table. However as argued above and implied by the runs bet, they may be flattered by Russell's heroics.

Of the two, I slightly prefer Rajasthan's batting depth. Jos Buttler is priceless in this format. Sanju Samson was magnificent prior to missing the last game injured. Stokes and Steve Smith are bound to produce their own special innings in due course.

Buttler a strong favourite for Royals

Buttler is predictably a 13/5 favourite to top-score for the second match running. There are numerous alternatives, especially if Sansom returns, but betting repeatedly at those odds since the start of last season would have yielded a good profit.

Karthik preferred this time for KKR

Russell is 5/1 top-score for KKR and 7/1 to be man of the match yet again. Neither appeals but the latter bet much sense because he bats so far down the order and also bowls.

At 13/2, Dinesh Karthik is preferred for top scorer. The captain usually bats earlier and often contends strongly in this market.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty


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