IPL 2024: Rajasthan Royals need better execution of plans against Punjab Kings

PTI, Apr 12, 2024, 1:00 PM IST

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Mullanpur: A disappointed Rajasthan Royals will have to focus on better execution of their strategies for a swift turnaround when they face a highly inconsistent yet capable Punjab Kings in their Indian Premier League match here on Saturday.

The Royals had an excellent chance to register their fifth win on the trot and consolidate their totem pole position, but Rashid Khan’s daring assault helped Gujarat Titans snatch a last-ball victory on Wednesday.

It might have come as a rude shock for the Royals at Fort Jaipur, and as such, they would want to treat it as an aberration and dish out a more refined outing against the Punjab side.

But it also highlighted some muddled thinking. The Sanju Samson-led Rajasthan outfit lost to the Titans because of the below-par effort from Kuldip Sen (19th over) and Avesh Khan (20th over) at a vital passage, when they conceded 35 runs across 12 balls.

Here, the Royals made a slight tactical error by not letting Trent Boult complete his quota in that match as the veteran left-arm pacer ended the match at 2-0-8-0.

There is no gainsaying that Boult could have made a change in the script, but Samson leaving that option unused was a tad perplexing.

Of course, Boult has been largely used with the new ball in this iteration of the IPL, but in crunch situations nothing counts more than experience.

So, the Royals will be looking for an improvement in the strategising and execution part against the Kings.

The Shikhar Dhawan-captained side has blown hot and cold so far in the tournament, winning two and losing three out of five matches.

The primary reason for their middling run this year is the patchy form of their fancied batsmen as Punjab relied on cameos by uncapped Shashank Singh and Ashutosh Sharma to boost their batting.

Opener Jonny Bairstow (5 matches, 81 runs) and middle-order batter Jitesh Sharma (5 matches, 77 runs) are the most underwhelming of the lot, and it has robbed them of momentum upfront and in the business end of their innings.

Sam Curran has been above average with the ball, taking six wickets from five matches but the England all-rounder’s needle has fallen behind from the halfway mark with the bat, despite scoring a 63.

The absence of injured Liam Livingstone from the middle-order too has reduced their firepower, and Kings will hope to have the Englishman back in their ranks at the earliest.

On the contrary, the Punjab bowlers have done marginally better, but their propensity to concede big runs while bowling first will be a concern.

A group consisting of bowlers such as Kagiso Rabada and Arshdeep Singh has given away 199, 199 and 182 runs in their last three matches and they will have to break the pattern against the Royals.

It’s easier said than done as the Royals’ batting unit has been in good shape as 185 is the lowest total it posted while batting first.

Outside the match calculations, the Royals will have another bigger worry to nullify. Over the last few editions of the IPL, the Royals had begun strongly, just as they did this year, before tapering off after the mid-season.

As a result, they have managed to qualify for the play-offs only twice across the last six seasons. Royals would dearly hope that the defeat against GT was not the beginning of another meltdown.

The Teams (from):

Punjab Kings: Shikhar Dhawan (c), Matthew Short, Prabhsimran Singh, Jitesh Sharma, Sikandar Raza, Rishi Dhawan, Liam Livingstone, Atharva Taide, Arshdeep Singh, Nathan Ellis, Sam Curran, Kagiso Rabada, Harpreet Brar, Rahul Chahar, Harpreet Bhatia, Vidwath Kaverappa, Shivam Singh, Harshal Patel, Chris Woakes, Ashutosh Sharma, Vishwanath Pratap Singh, Shashank Singh, Tanay Thyagarajann, Prince Choudhary, Rilee Rossouw.

Rajasthan Royals: Sanju Samson (c), Jos Buttler, Shimron Hetmyer, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Dhruv Jurel, Riyan Parag, Donovan Ferreira, Kunal Rathore, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Sen, Navdeep Saini, Sandeep Sharma, Trent Boult, Yuzvendra Chahal, Avesh Khan, Rovman Powell, Shubham Dubey, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Abid Mushtaq, Nandre Burger, Tanush Kotian, Keshav Maharaj.

Match starts at 7:30pm.

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