“It\"s T20 cricket. Ups and downs. This is the beauty of it. This is why we\"re here. This is why we play.”
Kumar Sangakkara’s positive and inspiring words were once again at the epicentre of the Royals’ ‘Dressing Room Diaries’ after our match against Gujarat Titans. It was a contest where we gave it our all, stuck to our plans and backed each other’s skills. Our bowlers did well to adapt to the tricky conditions, our batters gave us the start we needed, but the night clearly belonged to our opponent.
They say no two days are alike, and the IPL has been the biggest testament to this saying. There will always be highs and lows, but what’s important is how we absorb the lows, take the positives from them and come out shining. It’s a long tournament and things will keep changing at a rapid pace. All we need to do is trust the process, believe in ourselves and keep moving forward with an undeterred approach. After a three-day period of rest, rejuvenation and recovery, the Royals are ready to roar again.
Rajasthan Royals vs Kolkata Knight Riders - 18 April 2022
Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai
7:30 PM IST
This will be the Royals’ first encounter against Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2022 and also their first match at the Brabourne Stadium. The venue has witnessed some high-scoring games this season, with the average first-innings total being 192. Overall in the IPL, the Royals have won two of their four matches at this ground, while Kolkata have lost all of their four games here. The chasing trend continues this season, with teams batting second winning four of the seven games played at Brabourne.
In the 24 IPL matches that both teams have played against each other, the Royals have won on 11 occasions, while Kolkata have a slight lead with 13 wins. The last time these two sides faced off in IPL 2021, they registered one win apiece. The Royals won the first of the two clashes, with Chris Morris starring with a four-wicket haul and captain Sanju Samson’s unbeaten 42 guiding the team to a 6-wicket victory. The Royals skipper will be keen to lead from the front once again.
Player battles to watch
Shimron Hetmyer vs Andre Russell
A Caribbean face-off is always fun! With his exuberant power-hitting, Shimron Hetmyer appears to be on top of his game and knows no stopping at the moment. Against Andre Russell in T20s, he has scored 45 runs in just 22 balls at a strike rate of over 200 and is yet to lose his wicket to his international teammate. The Royals’ batter will be looking to take advantage of his superior record, especially at a venue that has seen over 100 sixes being hit this season alone. Watch out for some fireworks!
Yuzvendra Chahal vs Nitish Rana
The Kolkata batter has struggled against Yuzvendra Chahal’s leg-spin, having scored just 69 runs against him in 11 T20 innings so far. Chahal has dismissed him on four occasions, and with the way he’s bowling so far, the Purple Cap holder will go all out against the southpaw once again. Rana is coming off a fifty in his last game, so it will be interesting to see how and when the leggie is used to stop him in his tracks.
Ravichandran Ashwin vs Aaron Finch
Ashwin has relished the Kolkata challenge in the IPL and has the best strike in the tournament against them. His 23 wickets are the second-highest by any bowler against Kolkata. Aaron Finch, in particular, hasn’t found much success against the off-spinner, losing his wicket to the spinner thrice in 10 T20 innings. All eyes will be on this mouthwatering contest.
Best bowling average for R Ashwin in the IPL (min. 3 innings)
Kolkata Knight Riders
Trent Boult sustained a slight niggle ahead of the match against Gujarat, which made way for Jimmy Neesham’s debut in pink. In the post-match conference, captain Sanju hinted that if the pacer recovers in time, the management may need to rethink the playing combination for the next match. Considering Kolkata’s underwhelming record against left-arm pacers and the Kiwi’s good numbers against them, the Royals will keep their fingers crossed for Boult’s return. There has been no other official team news from the Royals camp. We’ve been treated to some surprises in the batting order in the last few games. Could there be another one waiting in the wings? We’ll find out tomorrow.
Devdutt Padikkal needs 2 more runs to complete 1000 runs in the IPL
Ravichandran Ashwin is 4 shy of 150 IPL wickets
Which Royal are you looking forward to watching in action? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter at @rajasthanroyals or with me @arey_yaar