Kings XI Punjab take on Rajasthan Royals in their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 encounter on Sunday.(PTI)
Kings XI Punjab take on Rajasthan Royals in their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 encounter on Sunday.(PTI)

IPL 2018: Kings XI Punjab, Rajasthan Royals seek to regain winning momentum

The sides led by India stars R Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane are coming off two defeats and will be desperate to win and stay on course for playoff berths in the Indian Premier League.
Hindustan Times, Indore | By Sidharth Gulati
UPDATED ON MAY 05, 2018 07:00 PM IST

Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals will look to get their campaign back on track when they face-off in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Holkar Stadium here on Sunday.

While Kings XI Punjab have five wins and three defeats after a strong start, Rajasthan Royals, winners of IPL 2008 are struggling in their chase for a playoff berth, after three victories and five losses.

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Both teams are coming off two straight defeats. KXIP lost to Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad while RR lost to Delhi Daredevils as well as Kane Williamson’s side.

KXIP’s middle-order, fielding concerns

Against SRH last month, openers Chris Gayle and KL Rahul had put on a 55-run stand in chasing 132 but the middle-order comprising Karun Nair, Aaron Finch and Manoj Tiwary failed to finish the job as KXIP lost by 13 runs.

Same was the case on Friday. With Gayle scoring a fifty, the stage was set for KXIP’s middle-order to take the team to a big total against Mumbai Indians. But they failed again.

Yuvraj Singh, who was dropped for the SRH game after a string of low scores in the first six games, managed just 14. Karun Nair, who has had a decent run so far with a couple of half-centuries, got a start but couldn’t capitalise.

The idea to promote Axar Patel ahead of Marcus Stoinis was baffling given how dangerous the Australian can be in the death overs.

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However, KXIP skipper R Ashwin backed the likes of Yuvraj and Finch to fire in the remaining matches.

“Yes, the middle-order has been a bit shaky but it’s important to have faith in them. We believe they are the ones (Yuvi, Finch) who are going to finish the games for us,” he said after the game against MI.

Ashwin admitted KXIP haven’t fielded well so far in the tournament and that’s one area he is concerned about.

“We haven’t been great (in fielding). Yes, we did leak around 8-10 runs (against MI) but the boys are working hard. We need to lift ourselves up.”

Buttler big positive

Fresh from his 26-ball 67 while opening the batting against DD, Rajasthan Royals batsman Jos Buttler will look to play a similar knock again and hope it comes in a winning cause.

The Buttler-Ajinkya Rahane combination at the top is the one that RR would be looking can get the job done with six games remaining in the league phase.

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Ben Stokes and Jaydev Unadkat, RR’s costliest buys at this year’s auction, have failed to win a single match for their team. The England all-rounder has scored 148 runs taking one wicket while Unadkat has taken seven scalps but gone for more than 10 runs an over.

Jofra Archer has taken seven wickets in his first three IPL matches while all-rounder K Gowtham has been RR’s biggest impact player so far after Sanju Samson, who has hit 282 runs in eight games, including two fifties.

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