Chennai Super Kings come into this game with a win under their belt against Royal Challengers Bangalore
Lack of consistency has brought Kolkata Knight Riders to the precipice of ouster from this edition of the IPL. In fifth place, the former champions have a must-win match against bottom-placed Chennai Super Kings to entertain hopes of reaching the last four.
This is not as easy as may appear. While Chennai Super Kings are mopping the floor of the points table currently, they are last season's runners-up, so not a team to be trifled with. In fact, no team in the league is given the spread of talent.
Moreover, Chennai Super Kings come into this game with a win under their belt, against Royal Challengers Bangalore no less, currently equal with no.1 Mumbai Indians on points, but one place behind because of Net Run Rate.
Against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Chennai Super Kings pulled off a clinical victory, bowling and batting with vintage aplomb, skill and assurance. In that kind of form, MS Dhoni's team would be a handful for any other.
Kolkata Knight Riders' last match, against Kings XI Punjab, ended in a big defeat as their top order collapsed, and not for the first time in this tournament. Unless this problem is swiftly overcome, Kolkata Knight Riders will be at a disadvantage in every match.
Shubman Gill and Eoin Morgan have been the team's mainstays this season. They have looked in very good touch, and but for their 81-run partnership in the previous match, the margin of defeat would have been even higher as Kolkata Knight Riders had lost 3 wickets in the first couple of overs.
The poor form of Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Dinesh Karthik and Sunil Narine (or Andre Russell when he was in the playing XI) has burdened Gill and Morgan with the task of repairing the innings rather than taking it to a position of strength.
In the bowling department, especially after the inclusion of Lockie Ferguson in the playing XI, Kolkata Knight Riders appear stronger. The combination of Ferguson and Pat Cummins gives the pace attack edge.
'Mystery' spinner Varun Chakravarthy, who has won a place in the T20 side to Australia with his splendid efforts in this tournament, is the lynchpin of Kolkata Knight Riders attack. But Morgan would like some wickets from Narine too. He hasn't got any since remodeling his action.
On the previous occasion the two teams met in this tournament, Kolkata Knight Riders choked Chennai Super Kings.
The equation this time is vastly different. Chennai Super Kings will be without pressure, with nothing to lose.
Kolkata Knight Riders have everything to lose if they fail to put up a regimented all-round performance.
Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator