KXIP vs RR: Rajasthan will have a herculean task to overcome Punjab

Tags: Indian Premier League 2014, Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab

Published on: May 24, 2014

Rajasthan Royals will have an extremely tough task on hand when they take on table-toppers Kings XI Punjab in the clash on Friday.

Rajasthan Royals will have an extremely tough task on hand when they take on table-toppers Kings XI Punjab in the clash on Friday. Punjab are already through, but would be keen to return to winning ways following the reverse against Mumbai Indians. The fact that Kolkata Knight Riders have also secured their berth in the playoffs following a convincing win over Royal Challengers Bangalore has made matters much more problematic for Rajasthan. Of all teams in contention for the fourth playoff spot, Rajasthan are best placed, but Mumbai Indians’ brilliant triumph against Punjab means they cannot take things lightly anymore.

If Rajasthan want to look at the positive side of things, it is definitely the fact that Punjab go into the match having been thrashed by Mumbai. Then again, Rajasthan themselves went down to Mumbai in their previous encounter. Their decision to rest key players like Ajinkya Rahane and Pravin Tambe backfired as a weakened Rajasthan couldn’t stand up to a strong Mumbai outfit. With the experiment in the last match, Rajasthan have now put themselves under undue pressure. Without doubt, Rahane and Tambe should return for the key game against Punjab as Rajasthan look to seal the final spot in the playoffs.

With Rahane out of the side, Rajasthan’s batting was out of sorts in the last game. Karun Nair batted well for his 48 and towards the end of the innings Brad Hodge and James Faulkner made good contributions. But, the likes of Sanju Samson, skipper Shane Watson among others will have to put their hands up against Punjab if Rajasthan want to overcome the tough challenge. After being left out, Steven Smith should also make a return to the playing eleven. His presence to the side is also crucial.

The biggest challenge for Rajasthan in the match would be for their bowlers to stop the rampaging Punjab batsmen. They may have had an off day against Mumbai, but the likes of Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and skipper George Bailey would be keen to get back among the big runs. The young Manan Vohra has supported the star players very well. And, while Virender Sehwag has failed to get the big scores, he has played a crucial part in getting the team off to swift starts in a number of games with his quick cameos.

The responsibility of stopping Punjab’s big-hitters will lie heavily on the likes of Pravin Tambe and James Faulkner. Skipper Shane Watson has also done very well in parts. In fact, in more than one match, his bowling has won games for the team. Tambe has claimed key wickets with his variations while Faulkner has succeeded when he has got his line right. Punjab themselves have match-winning bowlers in Sandeep Singh and Mitchell Johnson, with Akshar Patel doing a good restrictive job in the middle overs. For Rajasthan to overcome Punjab in the contest, they will need to believe they can cause an upset with their resources.

--By A Cricket Analyst

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