IPL 2018: All-round Kings XI Punjab start favourites vs Rajasthan Royals
Rajasthan Royals’ return to IPL after two years has not been a happy one. Ajinkya Rahane’s boys are at the bottom of the table with six points from nine games and are facing a situation where they will have to win all their games to stand a chance of entering the playoffs. They are heading into this home encounter having lost their last three encounters.
Their opponents, Kings XI Punjab, registered a six-wicket win in Indore during their previous duel and are in third spot on the points table with 12 points from nine matches. A win for Ravichandran Ashwin’s side will take them closer to a playoff spot while a loss might open up the tournament.
Rajasthan Royals’ batting, particularly the middle-order, has been the major concern. Only Jos Buttler, Rahane and Sanju Samson have contributed. Ben Stokes, the most expensive buy in the IPL auction, has had a poor run with both bat and ball managing 145 runs at an average of 17 and taking just two wickets in nine games.
On the bowling front, Jofra Archer, playing his debut IPL, has been the star performer with eight wickets in four games. Shreyas Gopal and Krishnappa Gowtham, with six wickets apiece, have been decent. The team, though, has been let down by Jaydev Unadkat, who has taken just seven wickets and conceded at an economy rate of 9.86. With their star bowler struggling and with most of the bowlers struggling to curb the flow of runs, there are plenty of problems for the Royals.
Kings XI Punjab tick all the boxes
The side is reaping dividends for picking key players during the auction. Chris Gayle, with three fifties and a century along with KL Rahul have shown firepower at the top. Rahul scored the fastest IPL fifty -- off 14 balls --- against Delhi Daredevils and transformed into a clinical finisher against Rajasthan Royals with his unbeaten 54-ball 84.
In the bowling department, 17-year-old Afghanistan mystery spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman has been a class act, taking 12 wickets. Mujeeb’s 3/27 played a big role in Rajasthan Royals losing momentum in Indore. He will once again be the key on Tuesday. Andrew Tye, Ashwin and Ankit Rajpoot are accurate and provide variety. It is this all-round strength that gives Kings XI Punjab an edge heading into the clash.
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