IPL 2019 Match Preview: M4 – RR VS KXIP: After the two years in limbo owing to the team’s suspension, a grand return was expected from Rajasthan Royals in 2018.
The Rajasthan Royals – boosted by the return of Steve Smith – have made some exciting additions to their side in the form of Ashton Turner and Oshane Thomas. RR exceeded expectations last season when they sneaked into the top four. With a much better side this season, the franchise will look to go further than they did in 2018.
Kings XI Punjab have undergone a sea change from last season. There has been a change at the helm– with Mike Hesson taking over as coach, and the franchise announced they were retaining only nine players who donned the red and silver last season. The team spent big sums of money at the player auctions to acquire the mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy and the English all-rounder Sam Curran.
RR will have their first-choice XI available for their season opener, while KXIP will be handicapped for their opening game – with David Miller still doing international duties for South Africa.
After the two years in limbo owing to the team’s suspension, a grand return was expected from Rajasthan Royals in 2018. But, again, they flattered to deceive. Will 2019 be the start of a new narrative? For starters, they have decided to go pink in a bid to embrace the traditional colour of the city they are based out of. But for their cricketing health to mirror the same hue throughout the 2019 journey they need to right a few wrongs.
Despite some headline-grabbing performances on occasions, the lack of consistency reflected in their scoreline as they finished with seven wins and seven losses, scraping through to the play-offs but failing to last the distance. Their biggest draws – Ben Stokes and Jaydev Unadkat – did not do justice to their price-tags while their skipper Ajinkya Rahane wasn’t able to force the pace both with the bat and his tactics on the field. Royals will hope for the trio to turn their fortunes around this time so that they can make a winning start to the campaign on Monday (March 25).
Probable XI: Ajinkya Rahane (C), Jos Buttler, Steven Smith, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Rahul Tripathi, Shreyas Gopal, K Gowtham, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Dhawal Kulkarni/Varun Aaron
Kings XI Punjab
All Kings XI have to do is look back at who won last year, and how. There’s no better way to do things correctly, and there’s no point trying to do the correct things differently. Over-invested in trying to be different, KXIP were out of gas when other teams stepped it up last year, so don’t be surprised if they have a bit more method to their madness this year. Being boring is what they couldn’t be in 2018.
Ravichandran Ashwin is an astute captain who’s also ready to run into the wild, which is why Mike Hesson’s appointment as the head coach becomes so much more significant. He can be the restrain KXIP can do with, the antidote to everything bold and beautiful that Ashwin brings to the table.
And then there are 13 new players in a 23-man strong squad, which will allow the team a fresh lease of reputation that goes beyond how good their opening batsmen are. The auctions weren’t perfect for them but it doesn’t mean that the season can’t be.
Probable XI: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, R Ashwin, Varun Chakravarthy, Andrew Tye, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Head to Head in IPL
Matches – 17, Rajasthan Royals – 10, Kings XI Punjab – 7
Last season both teams won their respective home fixtures. KL Rahul starred in both matches for KXIP; he scored an unbeaten 84 from 54 balls in the 6-wicket win in Indore , and followed it up with a 95 not out which wasn’t sufficient to take KXIP over the line in Jaipur. For the Rajasthan Royals, Jos Buttler starred with the bat in both matches; he scored 51 in Indore followed by an 82 which set up a 15-run win in Jaipur.