An inconsistent Kings XI Punjab will look to sort their bowling woes and regain the momentum when they host a rejuvenated Rajasthan Royals in an Indian Premier League encounter in Mohali on Tuesday.

The match will witness a face-off between R Ashwin and Jos Buttler after the Mankading furore earlier in the season and this is the battle that will be keenly watched, with both players in good form, individually.

The R Ashwin-led Kings XI slipped to number fifth after suffering back-to-back losses against Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore respectively. KXIP have struggled for consistency all season, having registered four wins and four losses from eight matches.

The bowling attack of Kings XI has been good only in patches. They failed to defend 197 against MI at the Wankhede with Kieron Pollard’s knock of 31-ball 83 blowing them away. In their last game against RCB, Punjab’s bowling again failed as they allowed the opposition overhaul the target of 173 with four balls to spare.

Mohammad Shami, Andrew Tye and all-rounder Sam Curran bled too many runs to hurt the hosts and they will need to bowl a tight line to support their skipper R Ashwin, who has the ability to frustrate even top batsmen with his intelligent bowling. The KXIP pacers had combined returns of 1-114 from 11 overs in the match against RCB.

“We let ourselves down on the field. We have a few more games at home and We need to string some wins and gain some momentum,” Ashwin had said.

KXIP play three consecutive away matches after the game against RR, and they could really do with a win at home before they hit the road. Mohali has been a fortress of sorts for KXIP, despite their defeat against RCB in the last match (which ended a series of seven consecutive wins at the ground).

KL Rahul (335) and Chris Gayle (322) are KXIP’s top two run-getters this season, with Mayank Agarwal coming a distant third. KXIP will want their openers to extend their run-scoring ways but will be wary of slowing down in the middle overs — that happened against both MI and RCB after the fall of the first wicket and eventually proved crucial.

Gayle smashed an unbeaten 99 to single-handedly anchor Punjab to 173 against RCB in the previous game while Rahul’s 64-ball unbeaten 100 too went in vain when MI chased down 197 to hand them a three-wicket loss.

KXIP have been a dominant side on their home ground and they would hope that the loss to RCB in the previous match here was an aberration.

Royals eye momentum

Rajasthan, on the other hand, come into this match with a win under their belt. They defeated Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede by four wickets and are currently placed at the seventh spot with two wins from seven matches.

Opener Jos Buttler’s 43-ball 89 was the cornerstone of Rajasthan’s chase of 188 against Mumbai. He was supported well by Rahane’s 37 and Sanju Samson’s 31 to achieve the target.

The only other match which Rajasthan won was against RCB, in which Buttler again played a key role, hitting 59 runs when his team was chasing a target of 159. Buttler has been the top run-getter predictably but their batting line-up also includes skipper Rahane, Samson and Steve Smith and they will need to deliver to confront Kings XI at IS Bindra PCA stadium.

Royals pacer Jofra Archer has troubled the batsmen with his fast bouncers and deadly yorkers and would look for another good outing Tuesday. Among others, seamers Jaydev Unadkat and Dhawal Kulkarni along with spinner Shreyas Gopal would have to deliver for their skipper if they have to stay alive and make it to the playoffs.

In Buttler and Gopal, an erratic Royals side have found two solid performers that Rahane would be banking on once again.

English all-rounder Ben Strokes, who failed to defend 18 runs in the last over against Chennai Super Kings, had missed the last match due to an injury and it remains to be seen if he makes a comeback against Punjab.

Head to Head in IPL:

Overall: Matches – 18, Kings XI Punjab – 8, Rajasthan Royals – 10.


Rajasthan Royals: Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Ashton Turner, Ish Sodhi, Oshane Thomas, Liam Livingstone, Ajinkya Rahane (C), Sanju Samson (WK), Shubham Ranjane, Stuart Binny, Shreyas Gopal, Sudhesan Midhun, Jaydev Unadkat, Prashant Chopra, Mahipal Lomror, Aryaman Birla, Riyan Parag, Dhawal Kulkarni, Krishnappa Gowtham, Varun Aaron, Shashank Singh, Manan Vohra, Rahul Tripathi.

Kings XI Punjab: Lokesh Rahul (WK), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, Ravichandran Ashwin (C), Andrew Tye, Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rehman, Karun Nair, Moises Henriques, Varun Chakravarthi, Harpreet Brar, Simran Singh, Nicholas Pooran (WK), Hardus Viljoen, Ankit Rajpoot, Arshdeep Singh, Darshan Nalkande, Agnivesh Ayachi.

Match starts at 8 pm, IST.

With inputs from PTI and