There's just one more playoff slot up for grabs and Matt Harris is backing KKR to take advantage of a wounded Rajasthan on Thursday
"Captain Eoin Morgan and his predecessor Dinesh Karthik are short of runs and may just need to step up in this ‘must win’ game."
Kolkata Knight Riders v Rajasthan Royals
Thursday October 7th, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Kolkata cruise past bottom side
When you have a must win game in front of you, it helps to be playing the worst side in the competition. KKR duly took full advantage against the Sunrisers, chasing down a sub-par total of 115.
The Knight Riders remain in pole position for that final playoff place but recent performances haven't always been convincing. Kolkata's top order always needs to fire and the form of Venkatesh Iyer has been a big bonus since the restart.
If early wickets tumble, the pressure is on numbers 5 and 6. Captain Eoin Morgan and his predecessor Dinesh Karthik are short of runs and may just need to step up in this 'must win' game.
Rajasthan's hopes of a top four finish were effectively ended by Mumbai Indians who cruised to an eight wicket win on Tuesday. Mumbai had a full 11 overs to spare after the Royals crawled to just 90/9.
It's not mathematically impossible for the side to progress but a victory of equally emphatic proportions will be needed here.
Losing Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer should have caused serious issues within the Rajasthan squad but the team has responded to remain in touching distance with the playoffs. Those are encouraging signs for the future and the Royals can still be dangerous here but it's going to be tough to respond to that dispiriting defeat.
Sharjah set for showdown
Rajasthan Royals remain in Sharjah, having contributed the worst team total in seven matches on this surface. Their 90/9 drags down an already-modest first innings average to just 132 so we shouldn't expect a high scoring 40 overs on Thursday.
Five of those previous seven matches have gone to the side batting second with the disappointing Sunrisers and Punjab Kings the only teams to have failed while chasing.
There's just a two-point gap between the sides but a wide chasm in the match betting markets sees Kolkata start as favourites at 1.618/13 while Rajasthan are a distant second best at 2.466/4.
Those statistics suggest that the toss will be vital once again and those numbers could well even out if the coin lands in the Royals' favour. It's a day to chase but quality and momentum is clearly with KKR.
It's certainly not as simple as those prices suggest but I expect Rajasthan to struggle in response to that demoralising loss last time out.
There's plenty of fuss around the exciting Venkatesh Iyer right now with KKR coach Brendon McCullum even comparing the left hander to Adam Gilchrist. I don't recall Gilchrist sending down any lively medium pace but it's a favourable compliment nevertheless.
The attention should also make Iyer the favourite to top score for Kolkata at around 3.259/4 but I'll be backing the steadier approach of Shubman Gill. The opener has top scored twice since the switch to the UAE and will look a strong option if you can get him at 3.55/2
Rajasthan simply have to go for a big win to stand any chance of progressing to the playoffs. It looks like a forlorn hope and an attempt to 'tee off' from ball one could end up harming their chances of winning the match.
The approach can, however, make the Royals the better bet in the Most Sixes market. They are the favourites but, with all prices rising above the 2.01/1 line, there could be some value here. Rajasthan are available at 2.1211/10 to hit the most maximums with KKR on offer at 2.166/5 and The Tie at 6.05/1.
Matt Harris' IPL P/L
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