A red hot Rajasthan Royals (RR) welcomes an inconsistent Kings XI Punjab (KXP) at the Sardar Patel Stadium, in Motera, Ahmedabad, today for the 18th match of the Indian Premier League. With the thumping win over Chennai Super Kings, RR has shown the world that it is the team to beat in this tournament. Almost all their players are in good form. Still, they will know deep in their hearts that KXP has the firepower to blow them away. If the explosive players in the Punjab side hit their strides, Royals could taste their first defeat of the season.
Preview – RR
The team has no apparent weak links. It is an almost perfect blend of maturity and aggression. Ajinkya Rahane and Steven Smith lend stability to the batting order, while the likes of Shane Watson, Sanju Samson and Deepak Hooda are capable of the big hits. Stuart Binny and James Faulkner always step up their games when the team needs them – be it with the bat or the ball. Chris Morris and Pravin Tambe have been the most effective bowlers for the team. When you play against Rajasthan Royals, it is like fighting against an octopus. The hands of danger come from multiple directions.
Preview – KXP
The Punjab side’s problem area is their batting. The remedy is simple enough. Their struggling stars must regain their form. Apart from George Bailey, none of their batsmen has shown any consistency in run scoring. It would be a good idea to give a chance to Shaun Marsh. He is someone suitable for the low and slow pitch in Ahmedabad. He can do the job that Rahane is doing for Royals. The big hitters in the team can bat around him. If the need arises, he is capable of increasing the scoring tempo too.
Sandeep Sharma almost always plucks at least one top order wicket. It would be interesting to see how he fares against the in-form opening combination of Watson and Rahane. With his late swing and movement, he will fancy his chances against Watson.
Royals look invincible at the moment. However, the Punjab team has the firepower to destroy them. But can KXP find the spark to detonate the firepower?