IPL 2021: Kolkata Knight Riders v Punjab Kings – Preview and Prediction. Every match of the IPL we will provide betting tips. Also, have a listen to the Bet Central Podcast below
Kolkata Knight Riders and Punjab Kings will lock horns in Dubai, a city that Kolkata have not visited in 2021. The Knight Riders (W5, L6) can tighten their grip on fourth place, taking another step closer to the playoffs. Punjab is a little further behind on only eight points (W4, L7); however, a win would put them above Mumbai and back into finals contention. KKR, with a 19-10 overall head-to-head win record, should go in as favourites to secure another win.
Kolkata Knight Riders have become the team to catch in the race for fourth place. Their net run rate (NRR) is vastly superior to the three other teams vying for that place, and with every win, since the second half began (they have three in four now) they have managed to solidify their position further. So much so that even if their opponents on Friday, Punjab Kings, manage to beat them, they will go into the weekend holding on to the fourth spot.
KKR have heavily relied on Rahul Tripathi – their top scorer in three of their last seven matches – with the bat in the UAE leg of this season. The right-hander has smashed 315 runs across the season at a strike rate of 144.50. Since the resumption of the IPL, KKR has brought in the left-handed Venkatesh Iyer from Madhya Pradesh. Iyer has accrued 126 runs in the four games to date, and after a handy two-wicket haul in the defeat of the Delhi Capitals, appears to be a triple threat in the mould of Andre Russell.
For the Punjab Kings, that seems like an uphill task on current form – they are nowhere close to being favourites going into this fixture. There are patterns they fall into that don’t seem to change from season to season. Once again, it took them time to fit both Chris Gayle and Ravi Bishnoi in, and now they will have to take stock all over again, with Gayle leaving the IPL due to bubble fatigue. They still have openers batting outside their preferred spots, while an explosive top-order batter in Nicholas Pooran continues to fail in a finishing role. They had drafted in one of the top Indian six-hitters in Shahrukh Khan, who showed he had the goods at this level but has returned to the UAE out of favour.
Punjab have relied heavily on the opening pair of KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, who have combined for more than 46% of Punjab’s runs off the bat. Interestingly, when it comes to the toss, Punjab’s best results are the complete opposite of Kolkata’s. Punjab wins 68.70% of their matches when losing the toss and batting first. Aiden Markram came into the team after the break and has top-scored for Punjab in his last two innings.
Although KKR have been playing well recently, I have a feeling that KL Rahul and Agarwal will be back to their best for this one. They’ll be supported by Aiden Makram who has had a decent start to his IPL career as he’ll look to help his side keep the playoff hopes alive.
Punjab has four wins and six losses in 2021 when going into a match as the outsider.
The pre-match outsider has won four of the last six games in Dubai.
KKR has 13 wins and seven losses when batting second against Punjab.
The average first innings total in Dubai this year is 159 – the highest of all three UAE venues.
KKR have posted the highest powerplay score in 13 of the last 15 H2Hs.
Players To Watch
Punjab have won five of their last six matches when KL Rahul has scored 50 or more. For KKR, Nitish Rana is one to keep an eye on; he has struck more than one six per match and averaged over 40 with the bat, including their top score in their last match.