The Kings of the south have been dealt with, and now, it’s time to deal with the Kings of the North (Game of Thrones pun unintended). If you come to think of it, it was against the two kings we saw some drama unfold on the field last year. This time around, the focus is far, far away from the drama though. It’s on playing pure, dominating cricket and winning the game.
On the head-to-head front, Rajasthan Royals have our necks slightly ahead of Kings XI Punjab, winning 10 of the 19 matches. However, in the last 4 meetings, since 2018, we have won just the once. In this year’s edition, both the Royals and KXIP have won game apiece, but the latter have lost one too. The two teams’ batting line-ups will be brimming with confidence after posting 200+ winning totals and defending them rather comfortably.
Sanju Samson, Jofra Archer and Rahul Tewatia took centre stage in Sharjah as they constantly took the game away from CSK. Smith led from the front, taking up the huge responsibility of filling Buttler’s shoes as an opener. It was the first time he opened the innings in his T20 career; and a champion that he is, adjusted well to score 69.
For KXIP, Rahul is fresh off the highest score by an Indian in the IPL. His century was a well-paced knock, batting through the innings to see the team through to a massive total. A few members of the Punjab camp are currently in the Rajasthan Royals squad – Miller, Vohra & Rajpoot to name a few. They have Gowtham, who had contributed very well for us over the last two seasons. We can expect a few battles within the overall one as well.
Sharjah Cricket Stadium
33 sixes were hit when Rajasthan Royals beat CSK on Tuesday – equalling the IPL record for most sixes in a game. The Royals also went on to score the highest total in an IPL innings in the UAE. We all know how small the ground is and how many balls disappear on a regular basis. Both sides have hitters who can clear the ropes with ease. We wouldn’t expect any less from this encounter.
Robin Uthappa vs Mohammed Shami
Shami has been dictating terms with the ball so far in the tournament. He has extracted swing and his bouncers have been sharp. But, our very own experienced, Uthappa, seems to enjoy the ball coming on to the bat when Shami bowls. He has piled up over 50 runs at a strike rate of 145 against the speedster. If Uthapa continues to bat in the middle order, he could come up against Shami towards the latter end of the innings.
Jofra Archer vs Glenn Maxwell
The two have faced off in the IPL & the Big Bash League a few times, and Archer has always had the upper hand. Maxwell is key to KXIP’s finishing touch with the bat, but hasn’t fired yet. Archer will look to keep it that way, on the back of a fabulous record against Maxi. In 4 face-offs, the Englishman has got rid of the Aussie twice. Maxwell’s strike rate is a surprising 86.
Buttler vs KXIP bowlers
Jos is about to get back to the playing XI and he would be happy it’s against KXIP – a team he has enjoyed constant success against. He has smashed 4 fifties against them, 3 of which have come for Rajasthan Royals. His scores against them read – 51, 82, 69, 23. We certainly want him to continue the trend of scoring well against Punjab.
After joining the Royals at training, Buttler looked like a man on a mission, “They say well begun, is half done – not at the Royals! Here, we don’t rest easy. We run! We train! We fight! It’s the IPL, so nothing’s easy. We still remember last year, the disappointment, the pain, the frustration. There’s lot to set right and play for.”
His words are a source of motivation to the fellow Royals and all the fans alike. Come Sunday, we would love to keep the winning momentum going. We will aim to fire on all cylinders, in all departments of the game, once again. Halla Bol!