Rajasthan Royals last won their first three games of a season back in 2015, before their two-year ban kicked in. Having started this IPL with back-to-back wins, including a record-breaking chase on Sunday, the Steve Smith-led side will believe they have enough in their tanks to get through the target of 174 against KKR today.
Let us look at the key takeaways from the first innings between Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals
Jofra Archer’s extreme pace
After being criticised for bowling slower ones with the new ball in previous two games, Jofra Archer stuck to what he does the best – bowling at extreme pace.
Archer crossed the 150km/hr barrier twice in the opening over and the slowest ball was 147.4 km/hr, making openers Shubman Gill and Sunil Narine dance on his tunes.
Archer hit the deck hard and also clocked the fastest delivery of the tournament (152.1 kph) in a fiery spell, taking two key wickets of in-form opener Shubman Gill (47 from 34 balls) and skipper Dinesh Karthik (1). The spearhead finished with figures of 4-0-18-2 and also triggered the KKR collapse.
KKR’s batting order
Gill got a start and stitched two descent partnerships upfront with Sunil Narine and Nitish Rana. Russell came in at No.5 and looked dangerous but perished to Ankit Rajpoot. If not for Morgan's composure to bat out the innings, KKR would have struggled to get past 170. Morgan’s promotion up the order and pushing Narine down can give KKR tail a better chance of swinging at the end. Knight Riders were never able to rebound strongly after Russell’s wicket and questions over Sunil Narine's form continue to persist.
Focus on Kuldeep Yadav now
Kuldeep Yadav's form has been a real concern. The team's strike bowler until 2018, Kuldeep averages a wicket every 55 balls since IPL 2018. Last season, nine games yielded a mere four wickets. This season too, Kuldeep Yadav has a bowler batting teams have liked targeting. Over the years, Knight Riders have had the reputation of backing their players. Can Kuldeep repay that faith tonight?
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