Kings XI Punjab vs Rajasthan Royals, Abu Dhabi
It’s hard to look past KL Rahul but take a chance on Sanju Samson as he shown promise in the last couple of games.
Our XI: KL Rahul (capt), Jos Buttler(wk), Nicholas Pooran, Sanju Samson (vc), Chris Gayle, Ben Stokes, Chris Jordan, Jofra Archer, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Shreyas Gopal
Substitutes: Steven Smith, Mayank Agarwal, Rahul Tewatia, Glenn Maxwell
NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates, so please finalise your team after the toss.
Player availability: All players are available for selection. There is no official update on Mayank Agarwal’s availability yet.
Captain: KL Rahul
It’s hard to look beyond Rahul, the Orange Cap holder by a distance. Rahul has scored 50 or more six times in 12 innings this season. He has gone three innings without a fifty, but we are backing him to come good in this game. He scored 69 in Kings XI’s previous game against the Royals. Since 2018, Rahul has four fifties in five innings against the Royals and the most runs against them (304) as well.
Vice-captain: Sanju Samson
Samson has shown great promise in the last couple of games. He had an extremely rough patch after scoring fifties in the first couple of games but it seems like he is back in form now. He scored an unbeaten 54 to take the Royals through in their last game and the last time these two teams met, Samson scored a blistering 42-ball 85.
Jofra Archer: Royals’ best bowler by a mile. He has picked up 17 wickets with an economy rate of 6.71 and a strike rate of 16.8. In his last five games, Archer has picked up six wickets in the powerplay at a strike rate of 10.00, suggesting he gets a powerplay wicket in virtually every game. He invariably comes back to bowl at the death too, when there are more wickets up for grabs.
Mohammed Shami: Shami has been bowling as well as he ever has. He has picked up 10 wickets in his last 5 games while conceding 8.6 runs an over. For someone who opens the bowling and bowls at the death, that is a fantastic economy rate. In the powerplay, Shami has picked up seven wickets this season while going at only 7.37 an over.
Chris Gayle: Gayle has had a tremendous impact since his comeback. He has scored 177 runs in his five innings so far at a strike rate of 138.28. He has scored two fifties along with a couple of cameos as well. Given he might not face much of Jofra Archer as he is batting at No. 3, we could be in for a big performance with two legspinners and some inexperienced quicks in the Royals attack.
Ravi Bishnoi: Bishnoi is the second-highest wicket taker for Punjab this season with 12 wickets and an excellent economy rate of 7.2. He has been clever with his lines and lengths and varied his pace well. His tight overs in the middle phase have given Punjab control: in the middle overs (7-16), Bishnoi has picked up 11 wickets while maintaining an economy rate of 6.92.
Shreyas Gopal: Gopal has been very in the last few games. He has bowled in the powerplay as well as the middle overs and has had success in both phases. In Abu Dhabi, Gopal has picked up six wickets in four games at a strike rate of 16.50 in addition to an economy rate of 6.18. Two-thirds of his wickets have come at this venue this season.
An alternate vice-captain option is Jos Buttler. He has a very good record against Kings XI though most of his runs have come at the top of the order – 229 runs in five innings since 2018 at an average of 45.80 and a strike rate of 139.63.
Given Ben Stokes is not bowling much, Rahul Tewatia is an option to replace him. Before the century against Mumbai, Stokes had scored only 110 runs in five innings.
Source: ESPN Crickinfo