Indian Premier League 2020: Rajasthan Royals face Kings XI Punjab in battle of in-form sides

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In form sides Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab will face-off tonight (September 27) in match 9 of IPL 2020 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in UAE.

Both sides will come into the match in rich vein of form. While Rajasthan Royals upstaged strong contenders Chennai Super Kings in their opening clash, Kings XI Punjab opened their account by decimating Royal Challengers Bangalore by 97-runs.

Kings XI captain KL Rahul scored the first century of this edition, scoring a rampant 132* (off 69 balls; 4×14, 6×7) to take his side to a handsome total of 206/3 from their allotted 20 overs. In reply, RCB had no answers against the Kings XI’s underrated spin duo of Murugan Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi. Both Bishnoi and Ashwin picked-up three wickets each as RCB folded-up for a miserly 109 to hand Kings XI their first win of the tournament.

Kings XI had earlier slipped to a narrow defeat in a Super Over thriller against the Delhi Capitals in their first match.

Rajasthan Royals on the other hand have a different tale. Coming into the tournament, several experts and pundits had predicted that the Steve Smith-led side will finish at the bottom of the table. They were of the opinion that the Royals lacked the firepower in their lineup which is required to be considered as a dominant force in the T20 format.

In their first game against three-time champions Chennai Super Kings, the Royals entered the pitch as huge underdogs. Playing in the absence of the English duo of Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes, the Royals further highlighted their underdog tag. But what followed in the game caught the eye of many.

Being put into bat, Rajasthan Royals finished their innings with a mammoth 216-7, riding on the fireworks of Sanju Samson (74 off 32 balls; 4×1, 6×9) and skipper Steve Smith, who tied-up one end with a steady knock of 69 ( off 47 balls; 4×4, 6×4). The duo tuned their eventual victory with a 121-run stand. Jofra Archer further added insult to injury for CSK when he scored four consecutive sixes off Lungi Ngidi’s final over to power his side past 200.

Rajasthan Royals thus became the first team in IPL 2020 to cross the 200-run mark. CSK in reply, never looked in contention against some disciplined bowling from the Royals bowlers.  Only Faf du Plessis’ (72 off 37 balls) who was able to free his arms amidst the surging run-rate. With their defeat already a foregone conclusion, CSK skipper MS Dhoni’s late charge in the end where he hit Tom Curran for three consecutive sixes was not enough as his side slumped to a 16-run loss.

The victory will do wonders for the confidence of the team and the Royals faithful – they are looking hungry for success and are motivated to shed the minnows tag. Kings XI are not too different as they have looked lackluster over the years ever since they reached the finals of the 2014 edition. Under KL Rahul’s leadership, they boast of a new-look side which has a different vision

Rajasthan will further be empowered by the return of Jos Buttler – who has now completed his quarantine. The Englishman is one of the most lucrative names in limited overs cricket today.

With both sides boasting of strong batting lineups and in fine touch, the contest can be a potential high scoring thriller. Kings XI will be gunning for their maiden IPL crown while Rajasthan would want  to emulate their title-winning feat in the maiden edition of IPL in 2008.

Kings XI Punjab squad:

Lokesh Rahul (C), Harpreet Brar, Ishan Porel, Mandeep Singh, James Neesham, Tajinder Singh, Chris Jordan, Karun Nair, Deepak Hooda, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Glenn Maxwell, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Sarfaraz Khan, Sheldon Cottrell, Mayank Agarwal, Mohammed Shami, Darshan Nalkande, Nicholas Pooran, Chris Gayle, Murugan Ashwin, Jagadeesha Suchith, Krishnappa Gowtham, Hardus Viljoen, Simran Singh

Coach: Anil Kumble

Rajasthan Royals squad:

Steven Smith (c), Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson (wk), Andrew Tye, Kartik Tyagi, Ankit Rajpoot, Shreyas Gopal, Rahul Tewatia, Jaydev Unadkat, Mayank Markande, Mahipal Lomror, Oshane Thomas, Riyan Parag, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Anuj Rawat, Akash Singh, David Miller, Manan Vohra, Shashank Singh, Varun Aaron, Tom Curran, Robin Uthappa, Aniruddha Joshi, Jofra Archer

Coach: Andrew McDonald

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