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Kolkata Knight Riders v Lucknow Super Giants

It’s time to get down to business at the Indian Premier League, as the play-offs draw ever nearer.

Minds are beginning to sharpen focus and for the teams who clash on Wednesday, May 18, Kolkata Knight Riders and Lucknow Super Giants, that is just as well.

Inconsistency has dogged Kolkata’s campaign. They have won six and lost seven of their 13 matches to date. They haven’t given up on the play-offs just yet, especially having won three of their last four and giving the feeling that they are on a roll.

Throw into the mix that, after having lost all their first four games when batting first in 2022, they have now got that monkey off their back and won the last two matches when setting a target, and there is a renewed confidence to Shreyas Iyer’s team.

However, they were hammered by 75-runs by these opponents when the sides met as recently as May 7, and now that Lucknow have hit a rough patch, they will probably see this as a good opportunity to get back to winning ways against a team they know they can beat.

LSG had looked firmly on course to make the play-offs, until being routed by Gujarat Titans last week. Perhaps spooked by the crushing nature of that defeat, they did not recover in time for Sunday’s match against Rajasthan Royals and succumbed by 24 runs.

To avoid an embarrassing slide out of their play-off challenge, Lucknow need to stop the rot here and I think they will do so. Prior to those last two matches they had been one of the more consistent teams in the competition and that class can prove decisive.

Having said that, they will need to be on their mettle to deal with the considerable threat of Andre Russell, who has 17 wickets in 13 games so far, including a haul of 4-5. His 45 runs when the teams last clashed is a firm reminder to Lucknow that there can be no cause for complacency.

LSG are 8/11 to win the match with bet365 and I would take that price. KKR will also fear Quinton de Kock with the bat. The South African wicketkeeper-batter made 50 and was comfortably their top scorer when these teams last met. He is subject to a bet boost with Bet365, who have him as an attractive 15/4 to emerge as his team’s leading runscorer again. That looks good value to me.

As for their bowling, both Avesh Khan and Mohsin Khan could make it tricky for the KKR batters but Jason Holder remains high class and the veteran West Indies star is second favourite to be LSG’s best bowler. I’m siding with him at 11/4 to achieve that. Good luck.

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