Sports

Kings, Royals need fresh spark to revive playoff fortunes

Two sides who are beginning to forget the art of winning face off in a fixture that has big implications. Three losses in their last five games has left Punjab Kings playing catch up in the race for the playoffs. Rajasthan Royals, too, seem to be slipping just as the teams below them are making their charge. Both teams need a win. Anything less and their lives could get a bit tricky.

Mayank Agarwal is due for a big score, but he pushed himself down the order in their last game allowing Jonny Bairstow to open alongside Shikhar Dhawan. Is that the plan now? With overseas batters Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Liam Livingstone in good touch, what Kings need is for their lower-middle order of Indians – that might just also include Agarwal – to come good. If they hold up their end of the bargain, there’s enough skill between Kagiso Rabada, Rahul Chahar, Arshdeep Singh and others to realistically trouble Royals through the 20 overs.
As for Royals, their inability to go past 160 in their losses against Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders will be concerning. So too Yuzvendra Chahal‘s recent lack of wickets. IPL 2022’s purple-cap holder has struck just twice in four games. What they need to overcome the Kings challenge is wickets in the powerplay from Trent Boult and Prasidh Krishna. That will then set the spinners up and re-establish what some have been saying all through the IPL: Royals have the most well-rounded bowling attack this season.

Punjab Kings: 1 Jonny Bairstow, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Mayank Agarwal (capt), 4 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 5 Liam Livingstone, 6 Jitesh Sharma (wk), 7 Rishi Dhawan, 8 Rahul Chahar, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Arshdeep Singh, 11 Sandeep Sharma

Rajasthan Royals: 1 Jos Buttler, 2 Devdutt Padikkal, 3 Sanju Samson (capt, wk), 4 Karun Nair / Yashasvi Jaiswal, 5 Riyan Parag, 6 Shimron Hetmyer, 7 R Ashwin, 8 Trent Boult, 9 Prasidh Krishna, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Kuldeep Sen


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