With fitness concerns to key players and a controversy dredged up from the past, Rajasthan Royals have a lot on their plate as they take on Kings XI Punjab on Sunday. Both teams were beaten convincingly in their last game and while they may seem evenly miatched, Kings XI hold a slender advantage over Royals.
If their dismal bowling against Pune Warriors is anything to go by, Royals missed Rahul Shukla and Shaun Tait and, on a home track that had pace and carry in its first game, the absence will be more acute. James Faulkner bowled well against Warriors but it is Sreesanth's inconsistency that will worry Royals. Moreover, the fast-paced wicket in Jaipur will favour the Kings XI bowlers, with their line-up of Praveen Kumar, Ryan Harris, Azhar Mahmood and Parvinder Awana. They stifled Warriors in the first game and on a responsive pitch, with their varying styles, can be an effective attack.
Their collapse in the last game aside, Royals have a relatively settled look to their batting line-up. Rahul Dravid, Ajinkya Rahane, Brad Hodge and Stuart Binny have been among the runs, making up for the absence of a big-hitter. Their most significant weaknesses are the opening combination - in three games, their highest opening stand is 22, between Rahane and Kusal Perera - and the tendency to lose wickets in clusters towards the end, as was evident against Warriors. With two important bowlers missing from their ranks and Shane Watson injured - though Owais Shah said on the eve of the game that they should have a fully-fit squad to pick from come match day* - they will need to post a substantial total to challenge the Kings XI batsmen Adam Gilchrist, David Hussey, Mandeep Singh and Manan Vohra.
Rajasthan is one team who always creats doubt in our experts mind, and if they are playing against the Kings XI or Pune Warriors, situation is more difficult. Rajasthan playing at their homeground does have extra advantage, moreover they have shown better performace so far in the tournament. But in this particular match our experts are in favour of Kings XI punjab.
Kings XI have got a flyer start against the CSK in Chennai and if they will be able to repeat that performance they will be right at the top of this particular game.
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