The Sharjah Cricket Stadium looked too small and the bowling of Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab too easy for the batsmen of Rajasthan Royals. On Wednesday, it will be interesting to find out if the bigger boundaries at Dubai or the bowlers from Kolkata Knight Riders could have any impact on them.
The Royals is indeed on a roll, having gotten off to a spectacular start. It has won both its matches, chasing in excess of 200 on either occasion. Sunday’s win against the Punjab men was achieved with the biggest chase in the IPL’s history.
The Riders, though, is unlikely to be intimidated. It too is coming into its third game after winning its last. And its batting too boasts some of the cleanest strikers of the ball in the game.
It should be an interesting match. It would be particularly interesting to see if Steve Smith would opt to bat if he wins the toss. All the five games – including the two that went to the Super Over – played here saw the team batting first win.
The Royals’ confidence in chasing big totals is not misplaced. When a team has Jos Buttler’s explosive power and Smith’s brisk yet assured style of pushing the score at the top of the order, followed by Sanju Samson’s brilliance and form, no total looks beyond reach; and if it seems so at times, there are the likes of the newly unearthed danger man Rahul Tewatia, Robin Uthappa and Jofra Archer.
Archer also spearheads the Royals bowling, which has room to improve. Even playing six bowlers in the last game didn’t stop the flow of runs off the bats of Mayank Agarwal and K.L. Rahul. The team will be desperately want leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal to recapture the sparkling form he showed last year.
He will be up against a quality batting line-up featuring Shubman Gill, fresh from his match-winning 70 not out (62b) against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Eoin Morgan, captain Dinesh Karthik and one of the most feared batsmen in the format, Andre Russell.
The Riders bowlers would not mind a repeat of its show against Hyderabad, when it restricted the side to 142. Pat Cummins, Varun Chakravarthy, however, may find the in-form Royals batsmen a little harder to contain.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (Captain & Wicket-keeper), Andre Russell, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, Siddhesh Lad, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Eoin Morgan, Varun Chakravarthy, Tom Banton (Wicketkeeper), Rahul Tripathi, Chris Green, M Siddharth, Nikhil Naik (Wicketkeeper), Ali Khan.
Rajasthan Royals: Steve Smith (Captain), Jos Buttler (Wicketkeeper), Sanju Samson (Wicketkeeper), Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes, Robin Uthappa, David Miller, Ankit Rajpoot, Mahipal Lomror, Manan Vohra, Riyan Parag, Mayank Markande, Shreyas Gopal, Varun Aaron, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi, Akash Singh, Oshane Thomas, Andrew Tye, Rahul Tewatia, Shashank Singh, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Anirudha Joshi, Tom Curran and Anuj Rawat.
Match No. 12
Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Date: September 30, Wednesday.
Time: 7:30 p.m. IST.