The twelfth edition of the Indian Premier League is under way, and in the fourth encounter we will be witnessing former champions Rajasthan Royals taking on the Kings XI Punjab at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur.
The Ajinkya Rahane-led Rajasthan side is a promising outfit that has the potential to lift the IPL trophy like they did in the inaugural season, and boasts of a squad with rich depth and variety in both the batting and bowling departments, thanks to a pool of enviable foreign talent. With experienced Indian T20 specialists in their squad, they have the capability to go all the way. On the other hand, Kings XI Punjab have consistently underperformed with only a solitary runners-up medal to their credit. They possess a talented squad, led by Ravichandran Ashwin, that arguably does not have a lot of chemistry, and this could adversely affect their chances.
Rajasthan are expected to field Steve Smith, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Oshane Thomas as their overseas players in the playing eleven, along with their skipper Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Tripathi, Krishnappa Gowtham, Sanju Samson, Stuart Binny, Shreyas Gopal and Jaydev Unadkat.
Punjab are expected to play Chris Gayle, David Miller, Moises Henriques and Andrew Tye as their overseas players, along with their captain Ravichandran Ashwin, KL Rahul, Karun Nair, Sarfaraz Khan Murugan Ashwin, Ankit Rajpoot and Mohammed Shami.
Jos Buttler vs Andrew Tye
Jos Buttler was one of the champion performers in the last edition of the IPL, and has been in excellent nick for England. The wicketkeeper has 1075 runs from 37 IPL matches, at 34.68 with an excellent strike rate of more than 150. The Somerset keeper used to play for the Mumbai Indians and it will be exciting to see if he could replicate his last-season heroics.
Andrew Tye has been a vital cog in the Punjab attack. The right-arm Australian pacer is adept at tricking batsmen with his array of varieties, and had also finished as the leading wicket-taker in the last edition, bagging the purple cap. From 20 IPL matches, Tye has managed to prise out 36 wickets at an excellent strike rate of 12.83. His economy rate is 7.65 and slightly on the higher side, but that is down to him bowling predominantly in the death overs.
Jaydev Unadkat vs Chris Gayle
Jaydev Unadkat is arguably one of the most underrated bowlers in the T20 circuit, and with his ability to bowl a variety of yorkers and slower deliveries on a consistent basis, he is a big force to reckon with. He has a very smooth bowling action, and had performed brilliantly well for the Rising Pune Supergiants. Unadkat has 67 wickets at an average of 26.78 with an economy rate of 8.4, and that is commendable, considering that he bowls a lot of final overs.
Chris Gayle has been the West Indian team’s opener for many years now, and the southpaw is a ferocious hitter of the cricket ball and an enterprising cricketer with a vast array of attacking shots. His ability to attack from the word go, makes him a very crucial player and a tough competitor. Gayle has the best score of 175 in IPL history, while playing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. He has 3994 runs from 112 matches, with a batting average of 41.18 at an incredible strike rate of more than 150.
Taking into consideration the experience and chemistry of the Rajasthan team, coupled with their home record at Jaipur, Team CricWizz predicts that the Rajasthan Royals would win its match against the Kings XI Punjab. But Punjab could be the dark horses in this tournament, and they can most definitely not be written off.