The who’s who of big-hitting in modern-day cricket will try to outmuscle each other when Punjab Kings take on Rajasthan Royals at the Wankhede on Monday.
If on one hand there’s KL Rahul and Chris Gayle, there’s Sanju Samson and Jos Buttler on the other side. If in Nicholas Pooran, Punjab Kings have an amazing talent who can turn a match on its head with his free hitting, Royals have Ben Stokes’s brilliance to match that.
Stokes’s unmatched all-round skills will be needed more by his team in the absence of Jofra Archer, who is out with an injury. Archer was the bowler-in-chief for the Royals last year and so Stokes will have to contribute with the ball as well.
The Royals could opt to open with the highly-rated Yashasvi Jaiswal and Buttler. While Samson, who would be itching to prove a point, and Stokes would then form strong middle-order.
If the four fire on all cylinders, they can pummel any attack into submission. Royals are not short of options in their lower middle-order with the presence of all-rounders Shivam Dube, Riyan Parag and Rahul Tewatia.
In Archer’s absence, Royals’ pace attack will have to be led by their newest recruit — South African all-rounder Chris Morris, who will be eager to justify his huge price tag of Rs 16.25 crore.
On the other hand, Punjab boast of one of the most successful opening pairs of IPL 2020 — Rahul (670 runs) and Mayank Agarwal (424 runs).
Gayle was a real surprise last season. He was not a part of the playing XI in the first few matches and no one was sure if the 41-year-old Caribbean superstar would be able to bat like his former self.
But Gayle, once he got chance, proved all the doubters wrong with his signature big hits. Punjab will hope that the self-proclaimed “Universe Boss” will be in the mood this time as well.
They also have the likes of Englishman Dawid Malan, hard-hitting Tamil Nadu batsman Shahrukh Khan and of course West Indian firecracker Pooran. Shahrukh could get the nod ahead of others like Deepak Hooda and Sarfaraz Khan.
Punjab’s bowling attack will be led by Mohammed Shami, who was superb in the last edition. Their pacer line-up has been bolstered by the signing of Australian speedsters Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith and also includes Chris Jordan.