Match number 54 of the IPL 2021 season sees Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals face each other in Sharjah on Thursday.

Match number 54 of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 season sees Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals face each other in Sharjah on Thursday. KKR, who are still in fourth, need a win and make sure their NRR improves a bit further which will take them through. Their +0.294 NRR is a positive factor at this moment. Meanwhile, RR suffered a big defeat against MI which has hurt their chances big time in qualifying for the playoffs. Their woeful NRR of -0.737 might not be enough. 

RR are placed seventh and need a victory by a staggering margin. It will come down to equations as they need to have a better NRR than KKR at the end of the day. They also need MI to lose against SRH to have the minimum of chances to go through.

KKR’s fighting win against SRH the other day. gives them a great chance of going through. All they need is to play smart cricket and make sure they stay above the line. KKR could go in with the same XI that featured against SRH which means Lockie Ferguson will sit out. There is a lot riding on the fitness of Andre Russell, who if clears the test, can come in. This could lead to Shakib Al Hasan dropping out. However, Russell and Shakib can both feature as well given the latter’s influence in the game against SRH.

RR have dug a hole for themselves. After dismantling CSK in a 190-run chase, RR were belittled by MI. The heavy defeat has seen RR get pegged back. RR had beaten KKR earlier this season and with the contrasting form of both sides, the Knights will be a difficult prospect for the Royals this time around. RR’s top-order holds the key and the bowling unit will be backed to thwart a strong KKR batting unit.

Notably, this is the second of the two games to be held tomorrow.

Here we present all the concerned details to guide you through. 

Key details of the match

The match is set to be held at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. It’s scheduled to start at 7:30 PM IST. Fans can watch the action live on the Star Sports Network in their preferred languages. One can also stream the match live on the Disney+ Hotstar app (paid subscription). 

Here’s the preview

KKR’s top-order like RR holds the impetus. Expect the front three batters to come out firing. If KKR get off to a strong start, expect the middle-order to come and chip in as they bat long. The form of skipper Eoin Morgan is a worry though. Dinesh Karthik and Nitish Rana are the main bets with a positive approach implied. With the ball, the KKR spinners can be productive in Sharjah with Varun Chakravarthy leading the way. Shivam Mavi has shown promise since coming on and that’s a good sign for the KKR side. Stopping the RR openers will be challenging. Tim Southee can bring his experience into play.

RR need the front three to provide the explosions. If they come strong, KKR will be pushed back. RR’s middle-order is the worry though. They have failed to show any spark throughout the tourney. A department where RR have struggled. However, with nothing much to lose, RR have to give everything they have got. Their bowling can work well though. Chetan Sakariya and Mustafizur Rahman are the candidates to provide some comfort. RR have to come out with a positive frame of mind and move on from the heavy defeat against MI.

Probable playing XIs: KKR vs RR

KKR probable playing XI:

Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (c), Shakib Al Hasan/Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson/Tim Southee, Varun Chakravarthy, Shivam Mavi

RR probable playing XI:

Yashasvi Jaiswal, Evin Lewis, Sanju Samson (c&wk), Shivam Dube, Glenn Phillips, Rahul Tewatia, David Miller, A Singh, Chetan Sakariya, Mustafizur Rahman, Mayank Markande

Dream11 team prediction (option 1)

Batsmen: Sanju Samson, Evin Lewis, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi

All-rounders: R Tewatia, Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer

Bowlers: Varun Chakravarthy, M Rahman, Shivam Mavi

Dream11 team prediction (option 2)

Batsmen: Sanju Samson, Evin Lewis, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi

All-rounders: Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer

Bowlers: Varun Chakravarthy, M Rahman, Shetan Sakariya, S Mavi

Which players can be the top picks in the Dream11 team?

Sanju Samson and Rahul Tripathi are the two batters being backed for both Dream11 sides. Samson is RR’s best bet and has 483 runs under his belt. For KKR, Tripathi has mustered 356 runs to be his side’s top scorer. Both players coming at number three are top assets.

Sunil Narine has been in form over the last few games and is the all-rounder that fits the billing. He is bowling well and is a regular amongst the wickets.

Both teams boast of top bowlers and we pick Mustafizur as the ideal choice. The left-arm pacer has 13 scalps this season. Chakravarthy is the definite pick for KKR, with his mystery spin and variations on offer.

Dream11 fantasy: Captain choices

Varun Chakravarthy: With 15 scalps from 13 games, the KKR spinner has shown plenty of credentials to be in India’s XI in the T20 World Cup. He has looked settled in the UAE strips and performed well last season too. Expect him to fire once again.

Sanju Samson: RR skipper Samson can be a vital choice as the leader of this Dream11 side. With RR in a dire situation, Samson has the responsibility to come out strong. He is aiming to get past 500 runs this season and could put up a valuable show.

Dream11 fantasy: Vice-captain choices

In terms of vice-captaincy, Tripathi is an ideal option. The KKR number three batter is always busy on the field. Besides his useful runs, he is an excellent fielder. He claims important catches and is a superb athlete. Jaiswal is the other option as the vice-captain. The youngster can show his spark with an explosive start. He is a budding young cricketer.

Pitch report and conditions

The pitch in Sharjah has offered assistance to bowlers. It has been slow for the liking and spinners have enjoyed themselves here. Anything around the 140 mark can be a severe test for the side batting second. It’s expected to be hot and humid with temperatures above the 35-degree Celsius mark.

What happened in the previous meeting between the two?

The previous meeting between the two sides this season saw RR overcome KKR.

Head-to-head record

The two teams have met each other on 24 occasions in the IPL. KKR have won 12 matches with RR winning 11. One match didn’t have a result.

Match prediction

KKR could go marching and seal this important tie. Their form in the second phase is promising.

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