IPL 2019, RR vs KXIP: Top five player battles to watch out for

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Mar 25, 2019 09:21 AM IST

IPL 2019, RR vs KXIP: The match will bring face to face several top players and these key battles could decide the fate of the match according to us.

Rajasthan Royals will be back at their cauldron, the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, on Monday as they open their 2019 campaign with a match against the Kings XI Punjab. Over the years, the Royals have had an upper hand against the Kings from Punjab, having won 10 of the 17 matches played between the two teams.

File image of Chris Gayle.(Sportzpics)
File image of Chris Gayle.(Sportzpics)

This year too Ajinkya Rahane’s team will look to continue their good record against the Ravichandran Ashwin-led side. For KXIP, who had flattered to deceive last season, 2019 presents another chance to try and make ammends to years of underachievement in the league. KXIP along with Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore are the three teams who are yet to win the title.

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The match will bring face to face several top players and these key battles could decide the fate of the match according to us.

KL Rahul vs Dhawal Kulkarni

One of the major reasons why KXIP faded away after a good start last year was their over dependence on opener KL Rahul. Rahul, who had his best season last year, scored 659 runs in 14 matches at a strike-rate of 158 last season. Once he gets going, it is impossible to stop the Bengaluru batsman and that is what the Royals will look to avoid. Dhawal Kulkarni has handled the new ball with efficiency for several IPL franchises and has good head to head record against Rahul, having dismissed the opener thrice in the tournament.

India's Lokesh Rahul watches his shot. (AP)
India's Lokesh Rahul watches his shot. (AP)

Chris Gayle vs Krishnappa Gowtham

Chris Gayle has a great record in IPL and is a threat for any bowling attack. If there is one chink in his armour that teams look to exploit, that is his weakness against spin early in the innings. His current captain R Ashwin bowled in the powerplay to dismiss him in previous seasons and Rajasthan will look to do the same. Krishnappa Gowtham had a great breakthrough season in 2018 and he is a threat in the powerplay overs. This one will be a good battle to watch.

Jos Buttler vs Mujeeb-ur-Rahman

Jos Buttler is perhaps one of the most difficult batsmen to bowl to in T20 cricket and KXIP will have their task cut out against the wicket-keeper batsman. Buttler can play spin well and that helped him score 548 runs last season. But KXIP will look to stop the destructive force early. Buttler scored 51 and 82 in the two matches against KXIP last season and the man who got him out on both occasion was the Afghan right-arm spinner Mujeeb-ur-Rahman. If Mujeeb, who also bowls in the powerplay, can tackle Buttler, KXIP would have won a big battle.

Rajasthan Royals' skipper Ajinkya Rahane with teammates during their practice session. (PTI)
Rajasthan Royals' skipper Ajinkya Rahane with teammates during their practice session. (PTI)

Ajinkya Rahane vs Ravichandran Ashwin

Rajasthan Royals’ Ajinkya Rahane has struggled against Ravichandran Ashwin in the IPL. He has scored 25 runs from 26 balls and has been dismissed thrice by the off-spinner in the cash-rich league. Rahane enjoys batting against the fast bowlers, but has shown his vulnerability against spinners. If Ashwin decides to bowl with the new ball then Rahane could be in for a big challenge at the top of the order.

Ben Stokes vs Andrew Tye

Andrew Tye has dismissed Ben Stokes twice in T20 cricket. The Kings XI Punjab fast bowler had a fantastic IPL last year with 24 wickets in 14 matches. The Australian finished as the top wicket-taker in IPL 2018. Ben Stokes usually bats lower down the order and he will be expected to hit the big shots to set a target or chase down a total. Stokes will need to come up with a good plan to counter the Tye effect in the IPL match on Monday.

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