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IPL 2019, KKR vs RR: Against Royals, KKR’s chance to arrest slide

Dinesh Karthik will be praying for a turnaround in the fortunes of a struggling Kolkata Knight Riders, as they meet Rajasthan Royals in the IPL

cricket Updated: Apr 25, 2019 08:47 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Kolkata
IPL 2019,KKR vs RR,Kolkata Knight Riders
Kolkata Knight Riders(KKR) will look to get back to winnings ways when they take on Rajasthan Royals at the Eden Gardens Kolkata on Thursday.(PTI)

If it is any consolation — and the team in deep purple looks like it could do with more than some — Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) beat Rajasthan Royals (RR) when they last met in the Indian Premier League (IPL). That was on April 7. It was also the last time KKR won a game in IPL 12. And it was the only time KKR’s bowlers set up the game this term.

With his stock-in-trade slower deliveries and variations, Harry Gurney took 2/25 and was adjudged Man of the Match. The left-arm pacer was aided by KKR’s spin trio of Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav and bowling as a unit, they strangled RR restricting them to 139/3.

KKR have lost five games in a row since. “We haven’t played well collectively,” said Carlos Brathwaite. When they last lost that many or more, RR’s Jofra Archer was an unknown quantity in the Caribbean, Sachin Tendulkar was playing for India and Sourav Ganguly for KKR. That was in 2009 when KKR lost eight successive games and ended last.

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“The last time a team won undefeated was Arsenal,” said Brathwaite, referring to the 2003-04 Premiership title win. “Prefer to have the six losses when we had them rather than in the end… We need to find that spark individually or collectively to arrest the slide and take the momentum into the business part of the tournament,” said the West Indies T20 captain who has played once because Andre Russell has been on fire. “But you can’t expect him to always score 19-balls 40,” said Brathwaite.

That Thursday’s opponents have between them won one game less than Chennai Super Kings, who with eight victories are already in the playoff, is proof of how both have fared. RR’s bid to course-correct had them replace Ajinkya Rahane with Steve Smith as captain. “Instead of looking to ‘Jinks’, I am looking to Smith to find out where I need to be. That is all that has changed,” said Stuart Binny.

Brathwaite was perhaps speaking for both teams when he said: “As professionals, you can’t allow results to alter your demeanour or mindset. If you let results affect your mindset, the next four games will be even harder.”

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KKR gave their Indian players a break after Sunday’s loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad. The team management said some of them had gone to the KKR Academy in Mumbai. Skipper Dinesh Karthik was among the Indians who wasn’t at Eden on Wednesday and neither was Shubman Gill, Robin Uthappa and Nitish Rana.

Dropped on Sunday because of poor form, chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav though was there. As were Gurney and Brathwaite, fine-tuning yorkers. Archer and Ben Stokes are available for RR on Thursday perhaps for the last time before they report for England’s World Cup preparation. That means there could be another Stokes-Brathwaite T20 match-up at Eden after the 2016 World T20 final. “It is more of a media thing. We have had a few drinks since,” said Brathwaite.

First Published: Apr 24, 2019 19:56 IST