15 days ago, no one had any idea who would be playing the eliminator. The teams of the first qualifier were as it was expected:CSK and SRH. The eliminator could easily have had MI, RCB or KXIP playing in it but it is KKR vs RR. Even if KKR was not surprising, RR’s inclusion in the top 4 is bewildering.
What to expect: A rank turner, surely. Other than the top-order of RR, everyone other RR batsman is vulnerable against spin. Also KKR play with 3 spinners, namely Narine, Chawla and Yadav. Teams batting second have won 5 matches this season at Eden. The 2 occasions when the team batting first has won has been when 200 or more has been asked to chase.
KKR: 4 wins out of 7 at Eden means that it hasn’t absolutely been a fortress for KKR but they beat RR the last time both met in Kolkata. Narine should be given the bowl early as he has dismissed Rahane and Samson thrice each. Also, KKR’s top order (especially Lynn) has found some form. The strike-rates of Narine and Russell are bamboozling with both striking 189 runs per 100 balls. Prasidh Krishna’s form is another bonus for KKR. A problem could lie in KKR’s fifth bowler as Russell has been the only other bowler (than the aforesaid names) to be consistent in wicket-taking but has been expensive throughout the tournament.
RR: Winning without Buttler and Stokes would have been a great boost but still they don’t have a swashbuckler in their top order. Last time, they sent Archer up the order but he failed. Also, neither of Rahane,Samson or Tripathi has been consistent. Neither RR bowler (other than Archer and an overly-expensive Laughlin) has an average of more than 1 wicket per match. They, on the other hand would be impressed with the way Tripathi played up the top and how Shreyas Gopal ran through RCB’s batting order.
Stats: KKR have scored the most boundaries this IPL whereas RR has scored the least. Inversely, KKR has conceded the most sixes whereas RR has conceded the least.
Who will win: RR have miraculously made the play-offs but I don’t see their fairy tale continuing any longer. KKR should stroll past RR due to their home advantage and the latter’s absence of Buttler and Stokes.