RAJ vs KOL: Smith's men looking for third win on the trot
Free-flowing Rajasthan cross swords with an inconsistent Kolkata in the 12th match of 2020 Indian T20 League season at the Dubai International Stadium on Wednesday, September 30.
The Steve Smith-led side have been at their brilliant best, especially with the bat, crossing the 200-run mark in both of their games so far. Kolkata, on the other hand, showed lack of intent in their opening game against Mumbai but bounced back to winning ways by pilling further misery on Hyderabad; notching a seven-wicket win with two overs intact.
Rajasthan taking on Kolkata has been a rather one-sided affair in recent times, with the former conquering the latter in four of their last five meetings. From an overall perspective, however, the teams are almost evenly poised, with Rajasthan winning eight of their 20 encounters and Kolkata 10.
Having said that, here is all you need to know about the fixture:
Steve Smith: A captain leading from the front
Rajasthan captain Steve Smith has arguably been one of the most successful captains in the Indian T20 League. The Australian has, in fact, carried a win-percentage of 67.74, which is best amongst the players who have captained 25 or more games. The fact that his team reached the final in the only season he captained the team for an entire campaign (Pune in 2017) is further testament to his tactical brilliance.
Table: Best win % as captain in Indian T20 League (Minimum: 25 Matches)
In his last five games as a Rajasthan captain, he has won four and one ended without a result. Smith has not only been brilliant as a captain but he has been equally glaring with the bat too, averaging 101.5 in the first 6 overs amongst the batsmen who have faced 60+ balls. A detailed look at his performance further explains that he has hardly struggled in any phase of the game.
|Phase||Runs||Balls||Out||Average||Strike Rate||4s/6s||Boundary balls %|
Table: Steven Smith's batting in different phases of the Indian T20 League
Kuldeep Yadav needs to find his form
Kuldeep Yadav went for 39 (in four overs) and 15 (in two overs) in Kolkata’s opening two games. In both of those fixtures, the chinaman failed to grab a wicket, meaning that he has carried the slump in form that he suffered in the latter stages of 2019, into the new season. Since last year’s edition, the leggie has gone wicketless in eight out of the 12 matches. Fortunately for him, he has a decent record against his Wednesday’s opponent.
Table: Kuldeep Yadav vs Indian T20 League teams
Against Rajasthan, Kuldeep has bowled at an economy of 5.88; his best return against any other IPL team.
Players to watch:
Rajasthan – Sanju Samson
After losing Jos Buttler early in the game during their lengthy run-chase against Punjab, Rajasthan needed a big partnership to steady the ship. Out came Sanju Samson and altered the entire picture by scoring a 42-ball 85; an innings which had four boundaries and seven sixes. It was a similar picture altogether in Rajasthan’s opening game against Chennai, and you can surely expect more of the same from Kerala batsmen.
Kolkata – Sunil Narine
All-rounder Sunil Narine is yet to make an impact in year’s tournament, having scored a mere nine runs and picked a solitary wicket in two games, but Kolkata have something to look forward to as the Windian enjoys playing against Rajasthan Royals, with Steve Smith and Sanju Samson being his favourite preys. Against the Rajasthan captain, he has conceded just 46 runs in six innings while dismissing him on two occasions. Against Samson, he has given away a mere 39 runs in an innings while getting him out three times.
|Batsmen||Innings||Runs Scored||Balls Faced||Dismissed||S/R|
Table: Sunil Narine vs Smith and Samson
Stats to watch out for:
2: Pat Cummins is 2 wickets away from completing 100 wickets in T20s.
3: Eoin Morgan is 3 sixes away from completing 300 sixes in T20s. He will become the first Englishman to reach the milestone.
4: Andre Russell is 4 wickets away from completing 300 wickets in T20s.
16: Kuldeep has taken 6 wickets against Rajasthan at an average of 16.
67.5: Smith has scored 135 runs in his last 4 innings against Kolkata at an average of 67.5.
88: Morgan is 88 runs away from reaching 1000 runs in the Indian T20 League.
Rajasthan have been in an impeccable form and have shown absolute grit be it while batting first or while chasing. In Sanju Samson and Steve Smith, the team has two of the most reliable batsmen of the Indian T20 League, while in Jofra Archer, they have a power-hitter and a death-overs specialist. Kolkata, on the other hand, have shown resilience, but that has come in bits and pieces. It seems like the team lacks chemistry, and thus we think Smith’s men will win their third game in a row.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Dibyangshu Sarkar