KKR hope to end top-order woes, losing streak against Royals

Mumbai: Guilty of making too many changes at the top, Kolkata Knight Riders would like to find a winning combination against Rajasthan Royals and snap their five-match losing streak in the IPL here on Monday.
The form of Venkatesh Iyer, who is experiencing second season blues, has a lot to do with the changes KKR have been forced to make regularly at the top of the order.
Venkatesh’s performances have been underwhelming to say the least after a season that helped him get into the Indian team. After his struggles at the top, the team tried him in the middle-order but that too did not work.
The southpaw was back opening alongside Aaron Finch in the last game but runs deserted him again.
Making the play-offs from here looks improbable for KKR who desperately need to find their best XI and stick with it for the remainder of the competition.
“A lot of chopping and changing is happening, it’s been difficult to set up the right combination, with all injuries not helping as well. We need to stick together, play some fearless cricket, not be conservative with the bat.
“Five more matches remaining, we need to play well, show belief and give something back to the team and the management, forget about the past, start fresh and back your instinct,” said skipper Shreyas Iyer after the last game.
Shreyas has had a decent run as a batter with 290 runs at 36.25 but he has not got enough support from his teammates. In his first season as KKR captain, Shreyas has shown promise but needs to inspire his troops to script a turnaround.
Alongside Venkatesh, the dismal run of another retained player Varun Chakaravarthy has hurt the team. However, the move to drop him in the previous game did not yield the desired results as KKR lost their fifth game in a row.
The trio of Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav and Sunil Narine has been impressive and will be aiming to keep the in-form Jos Buttler quiet.
Rajasthan rely a lot on Buttler and his 566 runs at 70.75 are a big reason why they find themselves in the top-four. As the Englishman can’t be expected to fire in every game, skipper Sanju Samson needs to step up and be more consistent.
They are arguably the best bowling side in the competition but could not defend 159 in their previous game against Mumbai Indians due to heavy dew.
With 19 wickets at 13.68, Yuzvendra Chahal leads the bowling charts this season and alongside R Ashwin, Trent Boult and Prasidh Krishna, the Rajasthan attack has the ability to defend even below-par totals.
However, Royals will be looking for a much-improved batting effort to minimise the dew factor.
Match starts 7.30 IST. —PTI




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