Kolkata, Rajasthan in survival battle
Kolkata Knight Riders v Rajasthan Royals, Eden Gardens
Saturday, April 17
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Both teams have only an outside chance of making the semi-finals, but Kolkata's prospects are slimmer than Rajasthan's. The hosts have ten points, two games in hand and are in seventh place, while Rajasthan, presently sixth, have 12 with only one to play. Both teams have a negative net run-rate, which worsens their chances. The bottom line is Kolkata and Rajasthan need victory on Sunday to keep their campaigns alive. And even that may not be enough.
If Kolkata win, they need to do so by a margin large enough to significantly improve the worst net run-rate of the tournament, and do an encore in their last league game. If they lose, their final match will be inconsequential.
Rajasthan also need a large victory to push their net run-rate up towards zero, surpassing Deccan Chargers. And if they manage that, they need to hope Kings XI Punjab beat Chennai Super Kings on Sunday. Should Rajasthan lose to Kolkata, they will be out of the tournament.
Form guide (most recent first)
Kolkata - LLWLW
Rajasthan - LLWWL
Kolkata's four overseas players in the nine-wicket defeat in Chennai were Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum, Angelo Matthews and David Hussey. And yet they managed to score only 139. Three of them, though, will retain their spots while Hussey could make way for either Shane Bond or Ajantha Mendis.
Rajasthan will not change key personnel. They just need Michael Lumb, Shane Watson and Yusuf Pathan to fire because it's their batting that hasn't come good. Their bowlers have defended anything over 150.
Rajasthan 4 Kolkata 1
When these two teams met in Ahmedabad, Rajasthan managed 168 after winning the toss. A Kolkata without Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum struggled during the chase and were restricted to 134 for 5.
In the spotlight
Gayle and Ganguly: In their last two partnerships at Eden Gardens, Gayle and Sourav Ganguly have added 94 and 56 for the first wicket. They both fell cheaply in Chennai, and they will want to give Kolkata another rousing start to get the crowd going.
Shane Warne: He has 11 wickets at an average of 32 and an economy-rate of 7.68. But Rajasthan need more than just Warne the bowler to perform on Saturday. They need him at his galvanizing best, cajoling and inspiring his charges into raising their performance to levels never reached before. Nothing less will give Rajasthan a hope of making the final four.
Prime numbers and trivia
- Yusuf began his IPL with a 37-ball 100 against Mumbai and later blitzed 73 against Deccan. In his other 11 innings, however, Yusuf has been poor, scoring only 152 runs in 11 innings.
- Despite the dip in form, Yusuf has hit 24 sixes this season, the second most after Robin Uthappa, who has hit 25. Gayle's 16 is the most for Kolkata.
- Sourav Ganguly is Kolkata's highest run-scorer, with 376 runs in 12 innings. His strike-rate of 112, however, is the lowest for any batsmen with over 200 runs this season.
"We can still get in if Deccan only win one of two games, or lose both. And Chennai lose, and we beat Kolkata Saturday night."
Shane Warne tells his Twitter followers what Rajasthan needs to do and what else needs to happen
"The tournament is springing surprises everyday and a few games have produced results to keep us alive. But we need to do this on our own steam, win matches with our own ability."
Sourav Ganguly wants to depend on other results as little as possible.
George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.