Mumbai, May 6 (IANS) After enduring a smooth start in IPL 2022, Rajasthan Royals’ path has been rocked by losses to Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders. Now, with an inconsistent Punjab Kings to face at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday afternoon, the Sanju Samson-led side will look to get their campaign back on track with playoffs looming.
One of the biggest factors for Rajasthan’s success has been the runs scored by swashbuckling opener Jos Buttler, who is leading the run-chart with 588 runs in 10 matches at an average of 65.33 and strike-rate of 150.76. In the match against Mumbai, Buttler was kept quiet in the middle overs despite late acceleration for a half-century and fell cheaply against Kolkata, though captain Sanju Samson got a fifty.
Rajasthan’s think-tank will be concerned by the fact that the batting line-up made scores of 158 and 152 when pushed into batting first. They might be tempted to bring in young left-handed opener Yashasvi Jaiswal to open alongside Buttler with Devdutt Padikkal not getting the big scores.
On the bowling front, Rajasthan have a very well-rounded line-up in Trent Boult, Prasidh Krishna, Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal and would want more out of the bowling to keep Punjab away from a win.
On the other hand, Punjab have been inconsistent in their campaign, a win is usually followed by one or two losses. Shikhar Dhawan, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Liam Livingstone have come good for them. But they will need for captain Mayank Agarwal to get a big score after pushing himself down the order for Jonny Bairstow to open alongside Dhawan.
The bowling attack of Punjab has been bang on, with Kagiso Rabada picking four-wicket hauls in successive matches and Arshdeep Singh stemming the run-flow in death overs despite not taking much wickets. Pacer Sandeep Sharma came good as well in stopping the Gujarat Titans from getting a big total and would need similar efforts to stop Rajasthan from going on an onslaught.
A win for either of two teams will enhance their chances of making the playoffs. But a loss will make their path to the knockouts trickier.
Rajasthan Royals: Devdutt Padikkal, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson (captain and wicketkeeper), Jos Buttler, Shimron Hetmyer, Riyan Parag, Ravichandran Ashwin, Trent Boult, Yuzvendra Chahal, Prasidh Krishna, KC Cariappa, Navdeep Saini, Tejas Baroka, Anunay Singh, Kuldeep Sen, Dhruv Jurel, Kuldip Yadav, Shubham Garhwal, Rassie van der Dussen, James Neesham, Daryl Mitchell, Karun Nair and Obed McCoy.
Punjab Kings: Mayank Agarwal (captain), Arshdeep Singh, Shikhar Dhawan, Kagiso Rabada, Jonny Bairstow, Rahul Chahar, Shahrukh Khan, Harpreet Brar, Prabhsimran Singh, Jitesh Sharma (wicketkeeper), Ishan Porel, Liam Livingstone, Odean Smith, Sandeep Sharma, Raj Bawa, Rishi Dhawan, Prerak Mankad, Vaibhav Arora, Writtick Chatterjee, Baltej Dhanda, Ansh Patel, Nathan Ellis, Atharva Taide, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Benny Howell.