In recent seasons, Kolkata Knight Riders have made a habit of finishing their league campaigns poorly. In 2015, they fell off the top four with defeats in their last two group matches, while they ended in fourth place rather than in the top two in both 2016 and 2017 with defeats in two of their last three games.
This season, the poor finish might be starting even earlier. On May 3, KKR had moved to third place with a confident chase against Chennai Super Kings. Since then, however, they have lost two in a row, both times to Mumbai Indians, and have dropped out of the top four.
Kings XI Punjab are currently in third place, but are also experiencing a downturn. Having won five of their first six games, they have lost three of their last four.
Both teams have clearly defined problem areas to sort out. In Kings XI’s case, it’s an unsettled middle order brimming with out-of-form players, which has often undone the good work of Chris Gayle and KL Rahul at the top of the order. This explains why they have the second-best Powerplay run rate of all teams this season and the second-worst run rate in the middle and end overs.
KKR, meanwhile, have had a terrible season in terms of fast bowling, and understandably so. Mitchell Starc and Kamlesh Nagarkoti are out of the tournament, Mitchell Johnson and Tom Curran haven’t come anywhere near making up for Starc’s absence, Andre Russell has been underbowled to preserve his hamstrings, and Shivam Mavi and Prasidh Krishna lack top-level experience. Understandably enough, they have the worst fast-bowling economy rate (10.54) and average (39.82) of all teams this season.
With only one team – Sunrisers Hyderabad – having confirmed a playoff spot so far, and no team out of contention just yet, neither Kings XI nor KKR can afford too many more slip-ups. (Excerpts from ESPNCricinfo)