Sanju Samson will like to continue his dream form while the presence of Jos Buttler puts Rajasthan Royals on even keel with Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League game in Sharjah that promises to be yet another six-hitting contest.
When Royals took on Chennai Super Kings at this venue in their opener, a total 33 sixes were hit in the match, which was the joint-highest in IPL history. And with Buttler joining the ranks, to go with the array of stars KXIP possess, that record could come under real threat.
More importantly, coming into the match after morale-boosting victories, both KXIP and the Royals would look to build a winning momentum after starting the tournament as underdogs.
Buttler, who missed the first match due to quarantine rules as he reached the UAE separately with his family, is expected to open alongside Yashashvi Jaiswal with Steve Smith possibly taking David Miller’s position in the batting order. Tom Curran and Jofra Archer will again complete the four-player overseas quota.
“I am really excited to play my first game, it was great to be back in training with the boys, there’s a great vibe around the team so I’m really looking forward to taking the field,” Buttler said on the eve of the match.
“The atmosphere and energy around the squad is fantastic, obviously lots of confidence after that first game. The training has been very energetic, guys are lively and enjoying each other’s company. So expecting a really tough match against Kings XI,” Buttler said after a net session at Sharjah ground.
KL Rahul, touted as a future India captaincy material, plundered a record 132 not out off just 69 balls with the help of seven sixes in a much bigger ground in Dubai to lead KXIP to a resounding 97-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore. He did get reprieved twice when his opposite number Virat Kohli dropped a couple of sitters but the ball-striking skills were there for all to see.
The 28-year-old Rahul, one of the cleanest hitters of the ball, notched up the highest score by an Indian in IPL history and he would like to continue in the same vein on a ground which has short boundaries on all sides.
“KL Rahul was in exceptional form the other night against RCB, so he will be a key wicket as always and I think we’ll see another potentially high-scoring game at Sharjah with small boundaries and the dew factor coming in,” Buttler said.
The young Samson, on the other hand, made a mincemeat of the Chennai Super Kings bowlers, hitting nine sixes in his 32-ball 74 before Jofra Archer joined the party with a four-six burst in the final over in the match played at the same venue here on Tuesday.
The Royals captain Smith also chipped in with a 47-ball 69 while playing his first match after concussion related issues in the United Kingdom.
“Great to get a win on the board, the team played fantastically well in the first game. It was an outstanding batting performance and a fantastic bowling performance in tough bowling conditions,” Buttler said, praising his colleagues.
For KXIP, Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell would look to make amends for his low scores in the tournament so far.
In the bowling department, Mohammed Shami and West Indian Sheldon Cottrell led the pace-bowling department quite well for KXIP while the likes of leg-spinners Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin grabbed three wickets apiece against RCB.
The Royals managed to defend their 216 run target with Archer bowling brilliantly at the death and leg spinner Rahul Tewatia (3/37 in 4 overs) inflicting top order damage.
It will be interesting if Smith and Andrew McDonald decide to try out rookie Kartik Tyagi or seasoned Varun Aaron in Jayadev Unadkat’s place keeping his lack of pace and short boundaries in mind. The left-arm pacer struggled against CSK.
Another intriguing aspect would be to see if Punjab give Chris Gayle a game with Rahul saying the Universe Boss will feature at the right point when his team needs.
RR vs KXIP H2H
|Matches||RR won||KXIP won||Tied||RR win%||KXIP win%|
|RR vs KXIP||19||10||8||1 (RR lost)||55.26||42.11|
- Sanju Samson needs two sixes to complete 100 IPL sixes.
- Should he feature in the XI, Jos Buttler is 114 runs short of 1500 IPL runs
- KL Rahul, who became the fastest Indian to reach 2000 runs in IPL, needs 95 runs to complete 1500 runs for KXIP. His Karnataka and KXIP teammate Karun Nair needs 20 runs to complete 1500 IPL runs.
|Mahipal Lomror||Ankit Rajpoot||Shreyas Gopal||Jos Buttler|
|Manan Vohra||Mayank Markande||Ben Stokes*||Robin Uthappa|
|Riyan Parag||Jofra Archer||Rahul Tewatia||Sanju Samson|
|David Miller||Varun Aaron||Shashank Singh||Anuj Rawat|
|Steve Smith||Jaydev Unadkat||Anirudha Joshi|
|Yashasvi Jaiswal||Kartik Tyagi|
|Chris Gayle||Mohammed Shami||K Gowtham||KL Rahul|
|Mayank Agarwal||Mujeeb ur Rahman||Glenn Maxwell||Nicholas Pooran|
|Karun Nair||Arshdeep Singh||Deepak Hooda||Prabhsimran Singh|
|Sarfaraz Khan||Hardus Viljoen||James Neesham|
|Mandeep Singh||M Ashwin||Chris Jordan|
|J Suchith||Tajinder Singh|
Match starts at 7.30 pm IST and will be live on Star Sports network / Disney+ Hotstar
(With PTI and iplt20 inputs)