Kolkata Knight Riders will look to take a step closer to a playoff berth when it faces Rajasthan Royals in Sharjah on Thursday. Rajasthan Royals’ loss against the Mumbai Indians on Tuesday means it is pretty much out of the race.

The win against Sunrisers Hyderabad took KKR to 12 points and its net run rate to +0.294, the best among the teams eyeing the final playoff berth. A win against the Royals will ensure it finishes fourth.

However, if they lose, they will have to rely on Hyderabad to beat Mumbai, in which case KKR should go through on net run rate.

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KKR has banked on an all-round team effort. Against Hyderabad, playing his first game of the second leg, Shakib Al Hasan made a mark, first by getting out Kane Williamson with a direct hit and then with figures of 1 for 20. Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy continue to maintain a stranglehold through the middle overs.

In the UAE, the KKR batters have hammered bowling attacks upfront. However, against the Sunrisers, Venkatesh Iyer and Rahul Tripathi were out early. KKR would hope that’s an aberration. On Wednesday, a social media post shared by KKR showed the injured duo of Andre Russell and Lockie Ferguson sweating it out in the nets. Should they return against the Royals, it will be a boost.

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Meanwhile, Rajasthan’s meek surrender against Mumbai was the exact opposite of its flashy win against Chennai. On a Sharjah wicket that played low and slow, some RR batters were guilty of playing across the line against length balls as they limped to 90 for nine, their third-lowest total in the IPL. Royals could consider playing an experienced Jaydev Unadkat in place of Kuldip Yadav.

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