The Kings XI Punjab play the Rajasthan Royals in the second match of the double- header on Sunday. RR lie right at the bottom of the table, but a win could take them to the fifth or sixth spot, depending on the result of the earlier game between KKR and MI. The Kings will also be watching the first match closely as KKR winning will put more pressure on them if they want to stay in contention for the top two spots.
Rajasthan has been very ordinary all season, with some inspired innings’ from Samson the only thing that has saved them along with rain and the DLS. The Kings have been too reliant on their openers to get them off to big scores. Can they close the gap with KKR, or will RR jump up the points table?
Ben Stokes, Stuart Binny, Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler, Rahul Tripathi, D'Arcy Short, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jofra Archer, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat, Ankit Sharma, Anureet Singh, Shreyas Gopal, Prashant Chopra, Sudhesan Midhun, Ben Laughlin, Mahipal Lomror, Aryaman Birla, Jatin Saxena, Dushmantha Chameera, Ajinkya Rahane (c), Heinrich Klaasen, Ish Sodhi.
Kings XI Punjab
Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Yuvraj Singh, Karun Nair, Lokesh Rahul, Chris Gayle, David Miller, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Rajpoot, Manoj Tiwary, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Barinder Sran, Andrew Tye, Akshdeep Nath, Ben Dwarshuis, Pardeep Sahu, Mayank Dagar, Manzoor Dar.
Where the teams stand
RR’s openers really came to the party in the last game. D’Arcy Short justified the faith Rahane put in him with a 44 from 25 balls while having Buttler (67 from 26) open was a masterstroke. The rain in the last game might just have been a blessing in disguise. The middle order’s crippling instability was exposed once again in a tough chase during a rain-affected match. Gowtham down the order has been a revelation with his big hitting, and he might benefit from a promotion up the order. RR will need something special from at least two of their batsmen to stand a chance of beating Punjab with Gayle and Rahul in that lineup. Unfortunately, their bowling attack does not look equipped to restrict KXIP.
RR conceded 196 in 17 overs in the last game after some disastrous bowling that is emblematic of how they have been bowling all season. Jofra Archer has been their saving grace in recent games, while Shreyas Gopal too has been mostly economical throughout. The rest, however, have been consistently expensive. Unadkat, Stokes, Gowtham, and Kulkarni are all guilty of this, and when up against Punjab, they simply cannot afford to be lousy.
Fantasy Picks: Buttler, Rahane, Gopal, and Archer are all great picks from RR. Gowtham has been hitting the ball well too.
Kings XI Punjab
Punjab have lost both their last two games after their middle order caved after the fall of the openers. Ashwin made several questionable decisions in the last game, including playing Mayank Agarwal as a finisher rather than at number three. He also sent Axar Patel ahead of both Stoinis and Agarwal, a move that cost Punjab at least 20-25 runs. Yuvraj has been a massive problem for KXIP, while bringing in Tiwary did not help at all. Stoinis justified his place in the squad over Finch as he scored 29 from 15. Nair too started explosively but fell too early. Punjab needs some stability in their middle order to avoid a third defeat which would make life difficult for them in the semis, should they qualify.
Mujeeb has perhaps been the only stand-out bowler for Punjab this season. Rajpoot was brilliant with his 5-14 against SRH, but he had an off day against Mumbai. The rest have all been leaky, and no matter how many changes Ashwin makes, he simply cannot seem to solve this problem. Stoinis, Tye, Ashwin himself, and Axar Patel have all been leaky this season, and if they continue to do so, run the risk of letting the eliminators slip from their hands.
Fantasy Picks: Gayle, KL Rahul, and Karun Nair are the obvious picks from Punjab. Mujeeb has been in fine form too, while Stoinis is a worthy gamble.
Punjab win. Rajasthan will need a miracle to win this one based on how they have been performing.
The Royals are in desperate need of a win, but will it come at the expense of Kings XI Punjab? Let us know in the comments and poll below.