After putting up a commanding show against MI, Rajasthan Royals enjoyed a 4-day break and are ready to take on another in-form team, Kings XI Punjab. Not so long ago, KXIP were sitting under us in the points table. A 5-match winning streak has pumped them up and they come into their game with their tails up. It’s a do-or-die game for us, while Punjab will treat it the same way, even though a loss keeps them alive in the tournament.
We got to 10 points after the emphatic win over Mumbai, thanks to a Stokes century & a Samson half-century. It was pleasing to watch two of the senior pros get back into form at such a crucial juncture in the tournament. The batting order looks more settled than ever at the moment. Kings XI have also been bringing their best to the field with both bat & ball. Agarwal’s absence at the top hasn’t hampered their late surge.
The Royals have to polish their death bowling though. In the last few games, batsmen have taken way too many runs off some of the bowlers. None of the bowlers have posed the kind of threat Jofra Archer brings when he runs in. The spinners have kept proceedings quiet, but wickets are what they will be after. While Gopal picked up crucial wickets against MI, Tewatia will have to come to the party as well to keep the pressure on.
Gayle has been a force to deal with for some teams ever since he has regularised his spot in KXIP’s team. Most teams opt to have a go at him with an off-spinner, but the Royals might rely on Gopal’s knack of getting the big fish out, or will we see someone like Riyan Parag roll his arm over too. The last meeting was an absolute run-fest, and Tewatia stole the show with his 5 sixes off Cottrell. Much has changed since & both teams have been through a lot of interesting situations. 2 points are all that will matter on the night.
Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
It was at Abu Dhabi that the Royals pulled off the majestic chase against MI on Sunday. It will be great if the toss can finally drop Smith’s way though. The conditions at all the venues have changed and there’s a better balance between bat & ball. A slow pitch calls for batting first and setting s stiff total. However, if the pitch doesn’t look too dry. Chasing is always an option.
Jofra Archer vs Chris Gayle
Gayle has always has never really cut loose against Archer, who has dismissed him twice in 25 balls. Gayle has managed to pick up 35 runs, but we all know that’s a below-par expectation of him. Archer’s pace & bounce can be a strong force to keep the storm from hitting Abu Dhabi.
Robin Uthappa vs Mohammed Shami
Uthappa has been playing some lip-smacking strokes in the Powerplay. It is indeed disheartening to see him get out after a start. Hopefully, that’ll change when he faces Mohammed Shami. Uthappa has belted 60 runs off the 39 balls he has faced from the speedster. Robin’s has only lost his wicket once to him. Can Uthappa keep an in-form Shami from causing early problems?
Sanju Samson vs Ravi Bishnoi
We all saw what Sanju Samson’s plans against the spinners, mostly leggies. He likes to send the ball packing back over their heads. In the last game, the rookie spinner bowled 12 balls to Sanju, who took him for 16 runs. We know that if Sanju hits the ball off the middle, no ground can hold his sixes back. Will he hang in there, get his eye in and then take on Bishnoi, or will it be bang-bang from the first ball?
This game has a lot at stake. Two confident teams will be vying to keep climbing up the Dream11 IPL points table. If KXIP win they will move to 14 points, but if Rajasthan Royals get across the line, they will be tied on 12 with the Kings. Things are getting tricket & messier as teams are looking to squeeze into the top 4 in what will be a final dash. All three departments of the game will need to be on their toes for any opportunity that comes their way. The Royals have 2 points in their sights, nothing else.