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Punjab Kings won by 4 runs

Rajasthan Royals 217/7 (20)

Sanju Samson 119 (63)

Punjab Kings 221/6 (20)

KL Rahul 91 (50)

Man of the Match

Sanju Samson 119 (63)

Punjab Kings won by 4 runs

Date: 12/04/2021       |     Time: 7:30 pm

Venue: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

If a book were to be written on Rajasthan Royals' peregrination through this cycle of the Indian Premier League spanning 13 years, 'A tale of two extremes' could be an apt title. The underdogs in the maiden season in 2008 began their voyage with a title win. They've finished seven times in bottom-half of the table since, only making the play-offs a mere three times; and never another final. It only exacerbated in 2020, when they finished with the wooden spoon.

It was quite symbolic of their narrative last season, having had lit up Sharjah with two exceptional wins to kickstart their campaign. It evoked the feeling of "maybe this year could be it", but soon tailed away into another one of nihility. If the transience in their line-up was an issue last year, this year they'll be led by a new captain. Steve Smith replaced Ajinkya Rahane midway through 2019, and he led the side in 2020 before being replaced Sanju Samson for this upcoming season. They also acquired the services of all-rounder Chris Morris, shelling out the most amount for a player in the history of IPL auctions. Will it be another season of seeking answers for the Royals, or will change in leadership - with even Kumar Sangakkara in as director of cricket - bring about a change in fortunes, coming full circle.

Despite their strong comeback, Punjab's inability to close out games led to their early exit in 2020 - the team being let down by some of the big overseas names. The pacers leaked runs in the death overs, the middle order lacked runs, adding pressure on the top order. The lack of depth in the batting order hurt them. In their bid to right the wrongs from the previous year, the Kings have beefed up their pace department with Richardson and Meredith coming in. Their strategy for this year is to have an aggressive KL Rahul. It isn't the case of Punjab adding more depth to their batting that frees up Rahul at the top. But the change in personnel and the nature of pitches where Punjab play the majority of their games, will give Rahul the liberty to play his shots.

Punjab's story isn't too different from that of who they're up against in their season opener, whose Indian Premier League journey has been in a constant state of flux - what with changing captains, coaches and team personnel. This season going a step further to change the name of their franchise from Kings XI Punjab to Punjab Kings. Will that align the stars this time for Punjab, whose one constant in the 13 editions of the IPL so far has been an empty trophy cabinet?

When: Rajasthan Royals vs Punjab Kings, April 11, 2021, 19:30 IST

Where: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

What to expect: The teams will be greeted by Mumbai's humidity. Dew will be a factor for teams opting to bat second which makes the toss quite significant. In IPL hosted by India in the recent seasons, chasing teams have had advantages at the start of the season with fresh tracks and effect of dew later.
 

Team News:

Rajasthan Royals: Jofra Archer will miss the beginning of the IPL due a surgery he just had on his hand. A day prior to their tournament skipper Samson said RR were waiting on a report from their physios and doctors to ascertain Mustafizur Rahman, Andrew Tye and David Miller's availability, who have been in quarantine. Having loaded their squad with all-rounders, they've given themselves more than enough options, however, with the ball considering the lack of bowling depth last season.

If they do decide to open with the dangerous English duo of Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes, Samson, Riyan Parag, Rahul Tewatia, Morris and Shivam Dube will make for a solid middle order along with Shreyas Gopal, with four of the six offering them bowling options. If the English opening pair click, given the form the two are coming in with, with pressure off the middle order, it could make for a blockbuster view with big-hitters lined up aplenty. The stability that they lacked last year, could be their strength this time around.

Probable XI: Jos Buttler (wk), Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson (c), Riyan Parag, Shivam Dube, Rahul Tewatia, Chris Morris, Liam Livingstone, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi

Punjab Kings

Shahrukh Khan has been making the right noises in the lead up to the tournament. He should make the XI, playing the role of a finisher. PBKS have a call to make about whether Chris Gayle will start in their opener. If he comes in, Dawid Malan, the world's No.1 T20 batsman, will have to wait for a chance. Meanwhile, having spent quite a bit on acquiring the services of Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith, both would come into the equation.

Probable XI: KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Deepak Hooda, Moises Henriques, Mandeep Singh, Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Riley Meredith, Ravi Bishnoi

Did you know:

In the 21 games the two sides have played, RR lead the head-to-head count with 12 wins.

Royals have a good record at the Wankheded, having won both their games against MI in their last two visits to this venue.

In both the matches against RR last season, skipper Rahul’s slow innings made PBKS post below-par totals which were chased down by RR.

In death overs in last two years in IPL, Shami’s tally of 25 wickets is bettered only by Rabada (39) and Bumrah (28).

In the last two seasons RR were the worst bowling side in death overs – ER of 11.34 in 2019 and 11.60 in 2020 – despite the presence of Archer

Squads:

Rajasthan Royals Squad: Jos Buttler(w), Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson(c), Riyan Parag, Shivam Dube, Rahul Tewatia, Chris Morris, Liam Livingstone, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi, Mustafizur Rahman, Andrew Tye, Jofra Archer, Mayank Markande, Anuj Rawat, Chetan Sakariya, Kuldip Yadav, Yashasvi Jaiswal, David Miller, Manan Vohra, KC Cariappa, Mahipal Lomror, Akash Singh

Punjab Kings Squad: KL Rahul(w/c), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Prabhsimran Singh, Nicholas Pooran, Shahrukh Khan, Deepak Hooda, Jhye Richardson, Riley Meredith, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Moises Henriques, Chris Jordan, Mandeep Singh, Dawid Malan, Jalaj Saxena, Murugan Ashwin, Sarfaraz Khan, Fabian Allen, Saurabh Kumar, Ishan Porel, Utkarsh Singh, Darshan Nalkande, Arshdeep Singh, Harpreet Brar

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