Kolkata: The City of Joy is all set to welcome home team and Rajasthan Royals for the IPL 2018 Eliminator, but all hopes of a gripping contest may go out of window with city’s Meteorological Department forecasting rains on Wednesday.
Intermittent moderate-to-heavy rains lashed the city on match-eve too, keeping both teams indoors and forcing them to abandon their scheduled practice. Despite rains, sizable number of people thronged Mohammedan Sporting Club near the stadium to collect their match tickets, some of them braving the downpour for hours.
As per Met department, “one or two spells” of shower and thunderstorms are expected during the course of day, though by 2 pm on Wednesday, no rains had arrived. The Eden Gardens has excellent drainage, witnessed most recently in the drawn Test between India and Sri Lanka in November last year, where the ground staff worked extremely hard to ensure there was play on the last day when Indian pacers almost pulled off a stunning win on that muggy evening.
The pitch was kept under covers last night, and the moisture that must have seeped in is likely to affect team’s playing combinations. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have shown the preference to field their three spinners – Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla – and Rajasthan Royals also boast of a useful spin trio of Krishnappa Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal and Ish Sodhi. It would be interesting to see how the teams adjust to the rain threat.
This edition of IPL hasn’t yet seen a game being washed out, though Rajasthan Royals have played two rain-affected games already. Their home game against Delhi Daredevils (DD) on 11 April was a rain-curtailed affair that the hosts won by 10 runs via DLS method.
When rain arrived, the Royals were 153/5 in 17 overs and DD were asked to chase 71 runs in six overs. They, however, could muster only 60/4. Their return game was also marred by rains, but this time DD edged them out by four runs.
That match, played on 2 May, was reduced to 18 overs-a-side due to rains. When play started, Rishabh Pant produced a 29-ball 69 to push DD to 196/6 in 17.1 overs before rain came down for the second time. RR’s target was revised to 151 off 12 overs, but despite Jos Buttler’s 26-ball 67, they fell short by four runs.
Interestingly, even last year’s Eliminator was marred by downpour. That match, featuring KKR and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) was played in Bengaluru’s M Chinnaswamy Stadium and the then Gautam Gambhir-led side prevailed by seven wickets.
If the match is washed out, KKR will make it to Qualifier 2 – to be played in Kolkata on 25 April against SRH – based on their better ranking on points table; the Dinesh Karthik-led side occupy third place while RR are placed fourth.