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It now rests on Dinesh Karthik to lead by example in hauling the side out of its crisis.

Rajasthan Royals skipper Steve Smith won the toss and elected to field first against Kolkata Knight Riders in their Indian Premier League (IPL) clash at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday.

KKR, who have lost five games in a row, made two changes to the side that lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad, bringing in Prasidh Krishna in place of KC Cariappa while Carlos Brathwaite replaced Harry Gurney.

Bottom-placed Royals, who lost to Delhi Capitals in their last encounter, drafted in Oshane Thomas in place of Ashton Turner with Dhawal Kulkarni making way for Varun Aaron.

Speaking at the toss, Dinesh Karthik said: “It’s got a lot of grass cover on it and it’ll be a great batting wicket. One of the things is to keep right people in the right space. It’s very important that we get the best out of the players who are doing well. Prasidh comes in for KC Cariappa. Brathwaite comes in for Gurney.”

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Steve Smith said: “We are gonna bowl first. It (pitch) looks nice. Bit of grass coverage. A bit of a welcome change from what we are playing in Jaipur. Some positive signs, you want your batters in the top four to score runs. We got two changes. Big Oshane Thomas makes his IPL debut. He comes in for Ashton Turner. Dhawal Kulkarni is out and Varun Aaron replaces him.”


Kolkata Knight Riders (Playing XI): Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik(w/c), Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Piyush Chawla, Yarra Prithviraj, Prasidh Krishna

Rajasthan Royals (Playing XI): Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson(w), Steven Smith(c), Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, Stuart Binny, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Oshane Thomas, Varun Aaron

Left with the task of having to win every match going forward, Kolkata Knight Riders is desperately invoking the form that made it one of the teams to beat at the start of the tournament. The team experienced its last win five matches ago visiting Jaipur and it will now face Rajasthan Royals in the return leg on Thursday.

KKR captain Dinesh Karthik faces a curious situation juxtaposing the delight of making the ICC World Cup squad and the despair of seeing the team plummet to the bottom half of the standings after suffering five straight loses. Coach Jacques Kallis has strongly remained by Karthik’s side when quizzed about the captain’s fate, saying the team management never discussed possibility of relieving the latter of his duty. It now rests on the captain to lead by example in hauling the side out of its crisis.

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