An even contest on hand as Kings XI Punjab face Rajasthan
With their Indian Premier League campaigns off to a flier, both Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals would be hoping to outsmart each other when they clash in an exciting match of the IPL seventh season, in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
While Kings XI pulled off a sensational six-wicket win over the formidable Chennai Super Kings in a high-scoring match in Abu Dhabi on Friday, the Royals notched up a comfortable four-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad later in the day.
And come Sunday, both the teams will be aiming to carry on their winning momentum ahead in the tournament.
On paper Kings XI will start as favourites against the Royals.
Kings XI's team composition underwent a substantial overhaul this year. Led by Australian George Bailey, the Punjab franchise pulled off quite a masterstroke by snapping up India Test discard Virender Sehwag.
Image: David Miller (left) with George Bailey of Kings XI Punjab
Bowling a concern for Punjab
Even though he is no longer in his prime but on his day, the Delhi-dasher is an enthralling game-changer, capable of mortifying opposition attacks.
In Cheteshwar Pujara, hard-hitting Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and Bailey, Kings XI boast of a formidable batting line-up.
Their threat was visible on Friday when, chasing a mammoth 206-runs, Kings XI rode on a blazing 115-run stand between Miller and Maxwell to steal the scintillating win over Super Kings.
However, bowling is a cause of concern for Kings XI as almost all their bowlers went for runs against the Super Kings.
But Bailey will be hoping for a much-improved show from the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Laxmipathy Balaji, Rishi Dhawan and Parvinder Awana.
Image: Punjab pacer Mitchell Johnson
Photographs: Michael Dodge/Getty Images
Rajasthan have to sharpen their edges
The Royals, on the other hand, were clinical in their bowling performance against the Sunrisers.
Dhawal Kulkarni (2/23), Kane Richardson (2/25) and Rajat Bhatia (2/22) and Pravin Tambe (0/23) bowled economical spells to restrict the Sunrisers to 133 for six.
On the batting front, however, the Royals have some work to do as only two of their batsmen -- Ajinkya Rahane (59) and Stuart Binny (48 not out) managed double digit scores while chasing the modest score.
The Royals' batting department would be looking for inspiration from the legendary Rahul Dravid, who is donning the hat of a mentor.
Under the able guidance of Dravid, coach Paddy Upton and skipper Watson, the team that is often considered as underdog, will be looking at springing up surprises once again, which in turn will help them to leave behind the spot-fixing ghosts of last season.
Kings XI Punjab: George Bailey (C), David Miller, Manan Vohra, Virender Sehwag, Mitchell Johnson, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shaun Marsh, Wriddhaman Saha, Thisara Perera, Glenn Maxwell, Rishi Dhawan, Anureet Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Akshar Patel, Beuran Hendricks, Karanveer Singh, Murali Kartik, Shivam Sharma, Shardul Thakur, L Balaji, Parvinder Awana, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Mandeep Singh.
Rajasthan Royals: Shane Watson (c), Ajinkya Rahane, James Faulkner, Stuart Binny, Sanju Samson, Brad Hodge, Steven Smith, Abhishek Nayar, Ben Cutting, Kane Richardson, Tim Southee, Unmukt Chand, Ankush Bains, Vikramjeet Malik, Rahul Tewatia, Ankit Sharma, Amit Mishra, Deepak Hooda, Rajat Bhatia, Kevon Cooper, Iqbal Abdulla, Dhawal Kulkarni, Pravin Tambe, Karun Nair, Dishant Yagnik.
Image: Rajasthan Royals players celebrate a wicket