Kolkata Knight Riders v Lucknow Super Giants
Wednesday May 18th, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Kolkata cling on
Wednesday's game is a must win for KKR who will need other results to go their way if they are to progress. Six wins from 13 underlines their mixed form and a relatively high net run rate is the only positive in what seems an unlikely quest.
Part of the problem lies with an unsettled side. The Knight Riders have used 20 players in this tournament and have yet to keep the same starting XI in two consecutive games. That could change after Kolkata beat SRH by the comfortable margin of 54 runs on Saturday.
Form players from 2021, such as Venkatesh Iyer, have struggled, leaving new skipper Shreyas Iyer to do the bulk of the scoring. KKR can still make the playoffs but they wouldn't deserve it.
Lucknow made to wait
Despite their impressive season, Lucknow Super Giants are still waiting for the win that would cement their playoff slot. They may not need the points, but a top two finish is preferable and it would give the team some momentum after losing to Rajasthan last time out.
KL Rahul's dip in form is a concern at this late stage while others, such as Marcus Stoinis, have barely continued at all. A reliance on Rahul and Quinton de Kock at the top of the order can leave the team exposed after the Powerplay overs.
In the bowling unit, Avesh Khan has enjoyed a breakthrough tournament but the lack of an effective sixth bowling option can prove costly. While I don't want to be seen to be picking on him, Marcus Stoinis really isn't the best option with the ball.
50/50 at the DY Patil
Both teams have 50% records at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. Both KKR and the Super Giants come into Wednesday's game with one win and one defeat. Kolkata easily overcame Mumbai when they were last here so Shreyas Iyer's men might just be more comfortable on this surface.
The average first innings score over 19 previous games at this ground comes in at 168. Eight of those matches have gone to the side taking first knock while the remaining 11 have been won by the chasing team.
Teams will usually look to insert anyway but that does seem the logical approach on this surface. Win the toss and look to restrict the opposition to around 170.
Despite their late season wobble, Lucknow Super Giants remain favourites for the win and are currently available at 1.794/5. Kolkata Knight Riders are some way behind at 2.245/4.
It's another tricky call: KKR are suffering from that lack of a settled side but they have more dangerous T20 exponents in their squad. Lucknow have that settled unit but are suffering from an over reliance on certain players.
It's not my most confident call but I'm backing those key batters to come good for the favourites. When sides are desperate for the points late on, they also have a tendency to implode and that's another reason why I'm passing on KKR.
If the Super Giants are to convert, it will need a big response from their opening batters. Quinton de Kock started the tournament positively but, like his partner KL Rahul, his form has dipped in these closing stages.
QDK tends to run into bad spells but he's rarely out of form for long. I'm backing him to find his touch and 3/1 for him to top score for Lucknow is relatively generous. Other options in this market include the favourite KL Rahul at 2/1, Deepak Hooda at 4/1, Krunal Pandya at 6/1 and Marcus Stoinis at 7/1.
I was impressed with KKR's Venkatesh Iyer at the end of IPL 14. He hasn't quite hit the same form with the bat this season but he can still be a threat on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Shreyas Iyer has returned a number of top batter profits for me over the last two years.
I'm not taking a third tip for this game but I suspect either of those two players can be the dangerman for KKR. Venkatesh Iyer is quoted at 10/3 to top score for Kolkata while Shreyas is available at 7/2.