Exactly 143 days after their previous game, Punjab Kings will be back on the field to play their much awaited VIVO Indian Premier League match against the Rajasthan Royals. In a different city, a different setting, KL Rahul and co. would be hoping that the team can start off with a win yet again to build the right momentum going forward in the UAE.
Punjab Kings face familiar foes in Rajasthan Royals, who were the opponents for their season on the opening day of the 2021 season. The 2014 IPL finalists triumphed on that occasion and would be hoping to go two for two come Tuesday at the Dubai International Stadium.
Sanju Samson’s side have a marginally better head-to-head record, but it was Punjab Kings who won the previous encounter between the two thanks to Arshdeep Singh’s nerves of steel at the death. Rajasthan Royals are missing a few of their mainstays heading into the UAE leg of the 2021 IPL, and Punjab Kings would therefore have their tails up come Tuesday.
Batting de Baadshah
KL Rahul has been the leading run getter for Punjab Kings in all IPL seasons since 2018, and it should come as no surprise that the 29-year-old once again tops those charts. The stylish opening batsman has four fifties so far this season, and heads over to UAE off the back of a very successful England tour.
Over at the Royals’ corner, Sanju Samson has been the most consistent player for them, getting 277 runs in seven matches so far at a healthy average of over 46. The wicketkeeper batsman almost took the match away from Punjab Kings in the previous encounter at the Wankhede Stadium, and the Royals faithful would hope for captain Samson to deliver another strong performance.
Bowling de Kings
Seasoned Indian pacer Mohammed Shami has been Punjab Kings’ most reliable player since joining the franchise in 2019. Like skipper KL Rahul, Shami too is heading to IPL 2021 after making his mark with ball and bat in England and will be full of confidence. Shami has talented overseas players to support him in Adil Rashid and Nathan Ellis this year, and Punjab fans would hope the 31-year-old can continue to be amongst the wickets.
Rajasthan Royals splashed the cash to acquire Chris Morris at the IPL auctions, and the South African bowler seems to be justifying that price tag. Morris has 14 wickets so far in the competition, averaging two wickets per game. With Jofra Archer missing out, Morris will be the go to bowler for Samson and Rajasthan in their remaining IPL games.
Mudde di Baat
Punjab Kings and Rajasthan Royals find themselves in the middle of the points table as the competition reaches its midway point. For both sides, getting a win tomorrow is imperative to build some momentum going forward. KL Rahul’s side need to win at least four of their remaining six games, and don’t have a lot of wiggle room for error.
Punjab would also be gunning for revenge after losing out that high scoring thriller against the Royals in 2020, and if they can get one over their Northern rivals on Tuesday to start their UAE leg on a winning note.
- A Punjab Kings player has scored 90 or above in all of the last three games against Rajasthan Royals in the IPL.
- New Punjab Kings recruit Adil Rashid was the leading wicket-taker for his franchise in The Hundred.
- Mohammed Shami is just three wickets away from getting to 50 wickets for Punjab Kings in the IPL.
KL Rahul (c & wk), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Mandeep Singh, Deepak Hooda, Shahrukh Khan, Fabian Allen, Adil Rashid, Mohammed Shami, Ravi Bishnoi, Nathan Ellis.
New recruits Adil Rashid and Nathan Ellis could slot straight into the team given their recent form in white ball cricket. With the wickets in UAE offering spin, Ravi Bishnoi could be picked ahead of Arshdeep Singh, with Indian all-rounders Deepak Hooda and Shahrukh Khan providing the right balance in that middle-order. Fabian Allen had a successful time in the CPL, and could slot in ahead of Moises Henriques for Punjab Kings.
NOTE: The aforementioned line-up is an educated guess at best, and the final decision rests with the captain and the team management depending on various external factors.