Rajasthan Royals would be banking on their near-perfect combinations in almost all departments of the game to put up another commanding performance when they take on a strong Punjab Kings side in an IPL match in Guwahati on Wednesday. The Royals would be buoyed by the massive 72-run victory against Sunrisers Hyderabad, who were outsmarted by last year’s runners-up in every aspect of the game on Sunday. With Yashasvi Jaiswal, red-hot England white-ball skipper Jos Buttler and captain Sanju Samson smashing half-centuries against SRH, the Royals’ dominance with the bat was there for all to see, while their bowlers, led by Yuzvendra Chahal (4/17) and New Zealand quick Trent Boult (2/21), were more than a handful for SRH.
But with Punjab Kings also giving an indication of their immense firepower with both the bat and the ball in their seven-run DLS win against Kolkata Kinght Riders at Mohali, the match on Wednesday promises to give the spectators in Guwahati good value for money.
With RR playing two of their ‘home’ matches in the Northeastern city, a winning performance from Samson’s side will not only build their brand value in Guwahati, it will also expand their fan base in the region, which has seen precious little IPL action over the years.
The depth in Royals’ batting is such that it can withstand any bowling attack. If young Yashasvi’s 37-ball 54 at the top showed how quickly he has matured as an opener, Buttler seemed to be carrying on from where he had left off in the previous season, smashing a 22-ball 54.
The only weak link, if any, seemed to be their middle where Devdutt Padikkal and Riyan Parag were both dismissed cheaply, before West Indian Shimron Hetmyer took the team beyond the 200-run mark.
With a bowling lineup boasting of one of the premier pacers in the world in Boult along with two Indian stalwarts in Chahal and R Ashwin, the Royals can soften up the most resolute batting sides. And PBKS know they have an uphill task when the two teams clash at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium.
While the experience of top-order India batter Shikhar Dhawan will come in handy along with the bowling prowess of young left-arm India pacer Arshdeep Singh, the team would be eagerly awaiting the return of England power-hitter Liam Livingstone, who missed the opener against KKR after not getting the fitness clearance from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). The batter had suffered a knee injury in December last.
The English pair of Livingstone and pace bowling all-rounder Sam Curran — the most expensive buy ever in IPL history at Rs 18.50 crore — could be PBKS’ trump card this season along with the lanky left-arm quick Arshdeep.
The Teams (From): Rajasthan Royals: Sanju Samson (c), Abdul Basith, Murugan Ashwin, Ravichandran Ashwin, KM Asif, Trent Boult, Jos Buttler, KC Cariappa, Yuzvendra Chahal, Donovan Ferreira, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Dhruv Jurel, Obed McCoy, Devdutt Padikkal, Riyan Parag, Kunal Singh Rathore, Joe Root, Navdeep Saini, Sandeep Sharma, Kuldeep Sen, Akash Vasisht, Kuldip Yadav, Adam Zampa.
Punjab Kings: Shikhar Dhawan (c), Arshdeep Singh, Baltej Singh, Raj Bawa, Rahul Chahar, Sam Curran, Rishi Dhawan, Nathan Ellis, Harpreet Brar, Harpreet Singh, Vidwath Kaverappa, Liam Livingstone, Mohit Rathee, Prabhsimran Singh, Kagiso Rabada, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, M Shahrukh Khan, Jitesh Sharma, Shivam Singh, Matthew Short, Sikandar Raza, Atharva Taide.
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