IPL: Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals in mid-table encounter
Liam Livingstone and Evin Lewis’ explosive batting will meet its match in Chris Gayle’s power and KL Rahul’s finesse when Rajasthan Royals lock horns with Punjab Kings to improve upon their mid-table position in this IPL at the Dubai International Stadium on Tuesday.
The two IPL teams have been perennial under-achievers in the tournament and would be desperate to change their fortunes. More so for Punjab Kings, the only team that has lacked any kind of stability over the 14 seasons of IPL with frequent changes in captains and coaches.
For skipper Rahul, who has been a prime performer in the IPL, it will not just be about the runs he scores but also about how he leads the team with guidance from head coach Anil Kumble. However, the game will also be more about the kind of starts that the top-order players of both teams are able to provide.
England’s Livingstone has been a consistent performer for the last couple of years now in the shortest format and is coming into his own with some great performances in The Hundred. His potential opening partner is likely to be West Indies opener Lewis, who has often been the Indian bowling attack’s nemesis in T20Is.
If Livingstone and Lewis can be explosive in the Powerplay, Royals will expect skipper Sanju Samson to be more consistent in that No.3 position. What could also work to the Royals’ advantage is Punjab’s weak Indian bowling set-up save Mohammed Shami as they have to depend on either Adil Rashid or Ravi Bishnoi to look after the spin department. Their pace line-up with left-armer Arshdeep Singh as the domestic pick not looking the strongest, either Chris Jordan or Nathan Ellis could be the pace partner of Shami.
Royals’ third and fourth overseas players in the XI will be interesting choices. Chris Morris as an all-rounder is a certainty, while the fourth slot will go to either David Miller in the middle-order or the world’s No. 1 spinner in T20Is, Tabraiz Shamsi.
‘Surprise’ in store
Captain Samson said that Royals have planned a surprise for the fans which they will be finding out before Tuesday’s game. “Something secretive which we are keeping a surprise for the fans. You will get to know tomorrow (Tuesday) when we play,” Samson said on Monday.
The Royals are also ready to tackle the challenges lying ahead, Samson asserted.
“We played seven matches in India and now we have come here (in the UAE) to play. But we do know how to tackle challenges,” he said.
⚫ Punjab Kings vs Rajasthan Royals, Dubai (7.30pm IST)