Kolkata Knight Riders v Rajasthan Royals: Back KKR to keep their season alive

Dinesh Karthik
Matt Harris expects Dinesh Karthik's Kolakata Knight Riders to claim victory in Wednesday's IPL Eliminator

Rajasthan defied the loss of Jos Buttler to make it through to the last four but Matt Harris expects their luck to run out when the Royals face a strong KKR side on Wednesday.

"KKR have no-one in the Top Ten leading run scorers right now but four men are listed between 11 and 20 including Lynn, Dinesh Karthik, Sunil Narine and Robin Uthappa."

Kolkata Knight Riders v Rajasthan Royals
Wednesday 15:30 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

Kolkata hold it together

There were concerns at the start of the season that the Knight Riders had a thin squad and little in the way of cover if injury and lack of form struck. Fortunately, even those with questionable fitness records such as Chris Lynn and Andre Russell have stayed healthy and there has been little in the way of rotation in the starting XI.

KKR have no-one in the Top Ten leading run scorers right now but four men are listed between 11 and 20 including Lynn, Dinesh Karthik, Sunil Narine and Robin Uthappa. That's a sign of a strong top and middle order and Narine's efforts as a pinch hitter have been a welcome bonus with the side seeming to lack balance on the odd occasions that he drops down.

The Knight Riders' success has also been built, to an extent, on their bowling attack which focuses on the spinners with one or two seamers fitting around them. A quality unit featuring up to seven bowlers gives skipper Karthik flexibility in any conditions and in any situation.

No Buttler, no bother

Much has been made of Jos Buttler's absence and while the keeper/batsman single-handedly kept the Royals in touch with the play offs, an overall return to winning ways can inspire an underperforming team.

Rahul Tripathi went some way to proving that theory in Saturday's win over RCB with a match-winning 80 from 58 balls after a subdued tournament. Shreyas Gopal took four wickets in Bangalore's reply so Rajasthan can't simply be written off because they are without Buttler and, to a lesser extent, Ben Stokes.

Issues remain in this side with big auction purchases continuing to underperform so, if they are to win, it will likely come down to one huge contribution with bat and/or ball as was the case against RCB.

Home comforts

The Knight Riders are the only team left in the competition who can enjoy home advantage with this eliminator scheduled to take place at their own Eden Gardens ground. In seven group matches on this surface, an average first innings score of 175 has been produced but totals have varied greatly from 138 up to Mumbai's winning 210.

Five of those seven games have gone with the team batting second and we know that KKR like to chase so the toss will be important, particularly if you believe in a weather forecast that hints at thundery showers. If we get a full game, it should be a case of win the toss, insert and look to restrict the batting side to less than the 175 average.

KKR clear in front

At this late stage of the tournament we may have expected tight result betting but this is one of the most one sided markets in the tournament so far. As we've already seen, there's nothing to really encourage the Royals right now and Rahane's team therefore find themselves out at 9/52.82 for the win with Kolkata leading the way at 8/151.54.

Tripathi with the bat and Gopal with the ball produced stunning performances against RCB but the fact that Jofra Archer was pushed up as a pinch hitting opener - he made a four ball duck - tells you where Rajasthan's game is right now. If there is a weather issue then the toss may be vital but if you like small profits, get behind KKR.

Chris Lynn is KKR's key man

Dinesh Karthik may have outscored Chris Lynn in this tournament up to this point but KKR fans will just be relieved that the Aussie has remained clear of injury for once. Karthik is available at 11/2 to top score against the Royals while there will also be some interest in Sunil Narine at 4/1.

However, Lynn has also been consistent without perhaps kicking on to produce a huge individual knock and he's the recommended bet for this eliminator at 5/2.

Captain's knock required

Before his match winning efforts against Bangalore, Rahul Tripathi was comfortably into double figures in Rajasthan's Top Batsman markets but he shortens considerably now to 7/2. Sanju Samson is even shorter at 10/3 but after a strong start to IPL 11, he's faded badly in a pattern that mirrors his own career.

The pick in this market is Ajinkya Rahane: National selectors will have noticed that the Royal's skipper has produced another poor IPL but in a weak batting line up he can take responsibility and convert at 5/2, even if his efforts are in vain.

Matt Harris' IPL 2018 P/L

Staked: 34pts
Returns: 25.99pts
P/L: -8.01pts

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