IPL 2018: Kolkata Knight Riders opt to bowl vs Rajasthan Royals

Shane Warne Tips Sanju Samson as a Rising Star

Is this the wildest IPL season of all?

While Sunrisers Hyderabad (18 points from 12 matches) and Chennai Super Kings (16 points from 12 matches) have already sealed a spot each in the knockout stage, five teams, barring Delhi Daredevils, are still in contention.

But because of a slightly better net run rate they are placed in the top half with 12 points. But when Kolkata Knight Riders host Rajasthan Royals at Eden Gardens on Saturday, things will be as close they can get.

Against Mumbai Indians on Sunday night, Buttler racked up his fifth consecutive IPL fifty - a feat previously managed only by Virender Sehwag - while his team picked up their third back-to-back win on the spin. KKR's NRR of -0.189 is weaker than Mumbai's (+0.405) and RCB's (+0.218) which could also prove critical as the days tick by. If they win only one, they could be tied on 14 points with one or more teams.

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Kolkata Knight Riders moved to third on the IPL table after a spectacular collapse from their opponents, Rajasthan Royals, left them a relatively straightforward 143 to chase at the Eden Gardens. However, a win today will not guarantee a place in the playoffs for KKR. So far despite Buttler rising to the fore, RR has enjoyed mixed fortunes in this year's IPL, and so has skipper Ajinkya Rahane. Bowling uninterruptedly, Kuldeep, who had a lean phase of late, notched up a wicket each in his remaining three overs; he sent back Buttler, who was also out to a reverse sweep, Stokes and Stuart Binny to break RR's backbone. But now, with a solitary win in six games, KXIP look a jaded, misguided side. That kind of batting will not win you anything.

However, the Mumbai Indians and the Royal Challengers Bangalore do not stand a very good chance of making it to the playoffs. KKR's victory will hurt the chances of all the other teams vying for a Playoff spot, as it would push them further ahead in the table, on both NRR and points, and make it hard for them to catch up, with just a few games remaining. They will be eliminated if they lose to KXIP on Wednesday. Good news though for the visitors is that Jos Butler looks to have finally come alive, delivering back to back man of the match performances to guide his team to crucial victories. That win gave them a lifeline which they would like consolidate on with a win over KKR.

KXIP can not afford to lose either of their next two matches as their NRR took a heavy beating following their 10-wicket loss to RCB. Both are fantastic all-rounders and their performance in batting and bowling zones proves to be of great benefit.

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