Batsmen are likely to take the centre-stage when Rajasthan Royals faces Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League (IPL) clash at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Sunday.
While the shorter boundaries and a batting track on offer – the match between Royals and Chennai Super Kings saw a combined 33 sixes – will make it a tough ask for bowlers from both sides, Rajasthan Royals will be bolstered by the return of Jos Buttler.
The quarantine rule forced him to miss the game against Chennai Super Kings, but with the England international available for the key clash on Sunday, Royals batting order will benefit. While Buttler was the designated opener from last season, he would be better served as the finisher in this team. That could allow Steve Smith, who filled in as an opener and scored 69 off 47 balls, to continue as Yashasvi Jaiswal’s partner at the top.
KXIP pacer Mohammed Shami, holder of the purple cap, poses for a photograph with skipper and orange cap holder KL Rahul. – BCCI/IPL
After their individual heroics in the earlier games, all eyes will be on Sanju Samson and KL Rahul to get their teams off to flying starts with the bat. Samson hit nine sixes during his blistering 32-ball 74 against CSK, taking a particular liking to the spinners.
Kings XI will be boosted by the form of its skipper Rahul, who scored an unbeaten 132 off 69 balls against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Thursday. His opening partner Mayank Agarwal, too, has struck form in the tournament.
Glenn Maxwell has only registered scores of 1 and 5 from the opening two games and will be keen to replicate the performances he had with Australia in England earlier this month.
Kings XI has the slight edge going into this contest on the back of bowling displays by its pacers Sheldon Cottrell and Mohammed Shami. Cottrell and Shami have eight wickets between them and have conceded less than six runs per over in the early stages of the tournament.
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, Anuj Rawat.
Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul (Captain), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran, Glenn Maxwell, Deepak Hooda, Mandeep Singh, James Neesham, Jagadeesha Suchith, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Chris Jordan, Karun Nair, Murugan Ashwin, Krishnappa Gowtham, Sheldon Cottrell, Hardus Viljoen, Ishan Porel, Sarfaraz Khan, Tajinder Singh, Darshan Nalkande, Arshdeep Singh, Simran Singh, Harpreet Brar, Ravi Bishnoi.
Game No. 9: Rajasthan Royals vs Chennai Super Kings.
Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Date: September 27, Sunday.
Time: 7:30 PM IST.