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Punjab Kings vs Rajasthan Royals, Indian Premier League: In pacers' paradise, focus is on fitness

Mullanpur, Punjab’s new base, has hosted two matches so far and the fast bowlers have enjoyed bowling on its pitches, with 27 of the 30 wickets to fall going to the pacers. Rajasthan have an excellent pace attack, but one is not sure if every one of them is available

Our Bureau Calcutta Published 13.04.24, 09:05 AM
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Punjab Kings may lose some of their home adva­ntage in Mullanpur on Saturday if Rajasthan Royals manage to field their best bowling attack.

Mullanpur, Punjab’s new base, has hosted two matches so far and the fast bowlers have enjoyed bowling on its pitches, with 27 of the 30 wickets to fall going to the pacers. Rajasthan have an excellent pace attack, but one is not sure if every one of them is available.

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Trent Boult has looked sh­arp but the left-arm speedster just bowled two overs in the last game. South African Nandre Burger picked up six wickets from four matches with
his left-arm pace but missed the last game with injury. Utility seamer Sandeep Sharma’s availability too is unclear.
How many will turn up fit for Saturday? If Rajasthan have their first-choice bowlers, the Punjab batters will have a hard time.

Punjab, who have won only two of their five matches, have two top-class pacers in Kagiso Rabada and Arshdeep Singh but they haven’t been consistent enough. They, however, have developed late-order muscles in batting with Shashank Singh and Ashutosh Sharma showing their big-hitting prowess in the last two matches.

But Punjab may not be able to tame the high-flying Raja­sthan, who have won four of their five games so far, only with their batting.

That’s because Rajasthan have one of the strongest batting units this year, with the likes of captain Sanju Samson, Riyan Parag, Shimron Hetmyer and Jos Buttler. So Punjab will hope their bowlers exploit the home conditions to the fullest to get their third win of this edition.

About Rajasthan’s bowling, they would hope that Ra­vichandran Ashwin regains his form with the ball to complement the good work being done by Yuzvendra Chahal. Seamer Kuldeep Sen had a decent outing in the last game and will retain his place if Sandeep is still not fit.

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