Kolkata Knight Riders vs Rajasthan Royals, Dubai

Pro Tip: The in-form Steven Smith is a definite choice for captain but do keep an eye out for the Knight Riders middle-order batsmen.

Our XI: Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson, Dinesh Karthik, Shubman Gill, Steve Smith, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Tom Curran, Varun Chakravarthy, Jofra Archer, Ankit Rajpoot

Substitutes: Pat Cummins, Eoin Morgan, Rahul Tewatia, Sunil Narine

NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates, so please finalise your team after the toss.

Player availability: All players are available for selection.

Captain: Steven Smith
Smith decided to open the batting for the Royals and has scored two consecutive fifties. He will look to play deep into the innings and that only means more points for you. Though he has played both the games in Sharjah, his strike rate this season has been 160.81, which is significantly higher than his IPL career strike rate of 128.95.

Vice-captain: Andre Russell
Russell has been used at the death by the Knight Riders and we know what he can do with the bat, too. Two overs at the death means a higher possibility of getting a wicket as well. The Royals bowlers have been poor in the death in the last two games and Russell will be keen on exploiting their struggle further. He has struck at 246.27 in the death overs in the IPL since 2018.

Hot Picks
Jos Buttler: Buttler fell for a single-digit score against the Kings XI but given his consistency in the format, it might make sense to back him to fire against the Knight Riders. Since 2018, Buttler has opened the innings on 15 occasions and has scored fifties on eight of them in the IPL.

Sanju Samson: Samson has been one of the best batsmen on show in the tournament so far. He has been striking as cleanly as ever, and consistently at that, scoring consecutive fifties for the first time in his IPL career. On slightly bigger grounds, Samson's ability to run hard could get him more runs. Since 2017, he has scored 41.1% of his runs in singles and twos in the IPL.

Nitish Rana: As in previous editions, he has shown glimpses of excellence this season, too, but has failed to convert his starts so far. Clarity over his role in the batting order could probably be a reason; it looks like he will bat at No. 3 in most games this year.

Differential Picks
Ankit Rajpoot: He started out poorly against the Kings XI openers but came back strongly in the death. Though his economy at the death in the IPL since 2017 has been 10.7, he has a strike rate of 8.6. His recent performance against the Kings XI at the death suggests his economy should go down as well over the forthcoming matches.
Varun Chakravarthy: As if one mystery spinner is not enough in the line-up, the Knight Riders have brought in Varun Chakravarthy, too, who appears to be cast in the same mold as Sunil Narine. Though Chakravarthy has not played a lot of T20 games yet, he could have a huge impact in the game given his variations. Expect him to have a good season.

Alternate Scenarios

  • If Narine continues to open, chances of Russell getting to bat becomes less. So Sanju Samson could be your alternative vice-captain option, given his form.

  • The Knight Riders are likely to go in again with seven bowling options which makes it harder for one bowler to pick a bunch of wickets. If they drop a bowler, pick Sunil Narine for a Knight Riders player.

  • If Dinesh Karthik continues to bat in the top four, he should be your vice-captain. Karthik has scored 232 runs against the Royals since 2018 at a atrike rate of 163.38.