PBKS, RR Eye Quick Start To Avoid Another Mid-table Scrap

Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - PBKS, RR eye quick start to avoid another mid-table scrap. RR and PBKS currently occupy the fifth and sixth spot in the points table respectively

PBKS, RR Eye Quick Start To Avoid Another Mid-table ScrapRR and PBKS currently occupy the fifth and sixth spot in the points table respectively

The Overview

Hustling for the fourth spot has become a regular endeavour for both Punjab Kings and Rajasthan Royals, who once again find themselves precariously placed at the halfway stage of IPL 2021. With only three wins apiece – none of those being successive – both sides will be eager for some consistency to get their campaign up and running in the UAE leg of the tournament.

The Kings have played eight matches so far – one more than their opponents on Tuesday – and currently occupy the seventh spot on the points table. They started off with a victory against the Royals in what was an epic game way back in April this year, just about managing to defend 221 despite Sanju Samson's majestic 119 on his captaincy debut. Since then, both teams have blown hot and cold, with the Royals only marginally better in terms of win percentage.

Both sides have a plenty of international replacements forced due to non-availability of players, and some of those could work in their favour looking at the current form and calibre of these players. The No. 1 ranked T20I bowler in the world – Tabraiz Shamsi – enters the Royals setup with a lot of confidence and wickets. The Kings have roped in Adil Rashid who has bowled effectively in both powerplays and the middle overs (while he was also the joint-highest wicket-taker in The Hundred), and could have a big role to play considering the conditions in the UAE.

When: Tuesday, September 21 at 7:30 PM IST

Where: Dubai International Cricket Stadium

What to expect: The bigger outfield on one side, along with the help that bowlers of all disciplines have enjoyed at this venue, could mean that the game isn't loaded in favour of the batsmen. The double-paced nature of the wicket during the CSK-MI clash on Sunday could be a sign of things for the upcoming games in Dubai.

Head to Head: The Royals have a slightly better record in games against Punjab, leading 12 wins to their opponents' 10. Their last game was a final-over thriller in Mumbai with the Kings winning by four runs.

Team Watch:

Punjab Kings

Injured/Unavailable: Jhye Richardson, Riley Meredith and Dawid Malan pulled out of the UAE leg of IPL 2021, with the Kings deciding to bring in Nathan Ellis, Rashid and Aiden Markram as replacements.

Tactics/Match-ups: The Kings have had middle-order issues in the current cycle of the IPL (2018-2021) with their openers having contributed 50 per cent of the total runs scored – which is the highest for any side. With the middle-order averaging 17.10 in this IPL, Markram could be a potential solution at No. 3, with the South African also having batted well on the slow pitches in Sri Lanka recently. Chris Gayle, on the other hand, struggled during the CPL – averaging only 18.33 with a highest of 42 in nine matches – and could make way for the South African. The Kings might also look to play Rashid straightaway with the Royals batsmen not having done particularly well against spin.

Probable XI: KL Rahul (c & wk), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle/Aiden Markram, Nicholas Pooran, Deepak Hooda, Shahrukh Khan, Adil Rashid, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Nathan Ellis, Mohammed Shami

Rajasthan Royals

Injured/Unavailable: Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Andrew Tye and Jofra Archer were unavailable for the Royals for the UAE leg, which prompted them to bring in Evin Lewis, Oshane Thomas, Tabraiz Shamsi and Glenn Phillips.

Tactics/Match-ups: Among the new-comers, Evin Lewis has been in red-hot form, finishing as the second highest run-getter in the CPL with 426 runs at an average of 47.33, including three fifties and a hundred. Liam Livingstone – who was awarded MVP in The Hundred and smashed the fastest T20I century for England against Pakistan during the summer – is a reliable all-round option. The addition of Tabraiz Shamsi may well have to do with the fact that the RR spinners have fared poorly among all teams, with only three wickets at an average of 107.67, a strike rate of 62 and an economy of 10.42. It might, however, be a toss up between Shamsi and Mustafizur Rahman, with the Bangladesh left-arm pacer having done well against Australia and New Zealand recently.

Probable XI: Evin Lewis, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson (c & wk), Riyan Parag, Shivam Dube, Liam Livingstone, Rahul Tewatia, Chris Morris, Chetan Sakariya, Kartik Tyagi, Mustafizur Rahman/Tabraiz Shamsi.

Did you know?

– Among the eight teams in this IPL, the Royals are the only side who do not have a representation in the Indian squad for the upcoming T20 WC.

– Mustafizur (43) and Shamsi (41) are the second and third highest wicket-takers in T20Is in 2021, behind Rashid Khan's 49.

– Among those who faced at least 50 balls in Powerplay this season, only Ruturaj Gaikwad (91.8) and KL Rahul (96.4) strike at under 100. But Rahul is yet to be dismissed in the middle overs and has scored at a rate of 157 in that phase.

What they said:

“Match readiness is probably going to be an issue. It was the same as last season in Dubai. Guys took a couple of games to get the rustiness out of their bones. But we are fortunate that some guys have been playing cricket, especially overseas players, and I have been in pre-season doing a lot of bowling. We had two warm-up games, so we spent some time on our feet. But yes, a few guys will struggle and that is natural as not everyone is playing cricket consistently” – Chris Morris

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