Monday, May 19, 2008

Kolkata Knight Riders Vs Rajasthan Royals 44th Match
Eden Gardens, Kolkata on 20 May 2008
Start time Local 20:00 (GMT) 14:30

The Big Picture
Despite a loss in the key game against the Chennai Super Kings, the Kolkata Knight Riders are still in the running for a place in the semi-finals. Winning all three games will obviously boost their chances, but it still won't assure them a top-four slot. Similarly, a loss will diminish their chances, but they could still make the cut with 14 points, if other results go their way.

Shoaib Akhtar's knee injury and an unforgiving schedule, though, makes their task even harder. For a team who are yet to prove they can compete against the top teams, two of their three remaining games are against the most formidable sides of the tournament - Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab. Kolkata's inconsistent batting remains their main bugbear with the troubles starting at the top - seven different combinations in 11 games have yielded less than 20 runs an innings.

With all their departments firing and comfortably perched at the top of the table, the Rajasthan Royals have no such concerns. A win against Kolkata will guarantee a spot in the final four, and with it an opportunity to give some of their top players a break in the remaining three league games.

Tournament position
Kolkata Knight Riders: P11, W5, L6, NRR -0.026Rajasthan Royals: P10, W8, L2, NRR +0.876
Form (last five matches, most recent first)Kolkata Knight Riders: LLWWWRajasthan Royals: WWWLW

Watch out for

The clash of the captains - Shane Warne and Sourav Ganguly had a war of words after Ganguly refused to walk when a catch was claimed at midwicket in their previous encounter.
Graeme Smith against the Kolkata pace attack - Smith has been hard to dislodge and has orchestrated several of Rajasthan's successful chases. Who wins the battle between him and Kolkata's formidable fast bowlers could be a key factor in the match's result.
Team newsIf Shoaib's knee injury doesn't heal in time, Umar Gul is likely to get a look in after missing three games. While the batting continues to struggle, a lack of quality alternatives could see Kolkata go in with the same batsmen.

Kolkata Knight Riders (probable):
Salman Butt, Mohammad Hafeez, Sourav Ganguly (capt), Debabrata Das, David Hussey, Laxmi Shukla, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ajit Agarkar, Ishant Sharma, Ashok Dinda, Umar Gul

Unless Rajasthan want to give some of their regulars a rest, they could go in with the same XI that clinically dismantled Bangalore on Saturday.

Rajasthan Royals (probable):
Graeme Smith, Swapnil Asnodkar, Shane Watson, Yusuf Pathan, Mohammad Kaif, Ravindra Jadeja, Shane Warne (wk), Sohail Tanvir, Mahesh Rawat, Siddharth Trivedi, Munaf Patel

Stats and trivia

Sohail Tanvir, who fancies himself as a Man-of-the-Series contender, has taken 11 wickets and maintained an outstanding economy rate of 5.91

While Kolkata have won all four of their matches against the bottom-placed sides Deccan and Bangalore, they have triumphed in only one of their seven against the others.

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