IPL 2020, KXIP vs RR Preview: Can Steve Smith’s Rajasthan Royals find an answer for KL Rahul?

KL Rahul will be the key threat for Rajasthan Royals when they face Kings XI Punjab in Match 9 of the Indian Premier League 2020 on Sunday. Rahul peeled off the first century of this IPL season, shattering a few big records along the way, which led to many believing that he may be the No. 1 T20 batsman going around in the world at the moment.

Even Rohit Sharma, his Mumbai Indians counterpart, who is likely to go up against Rahul at least twice this season, couldn’t help but marvel at his India teammate’s clean hitting. Needless to say, Rahul has hit a Purple patch since returning from ban early last year and is on the way to proving himself a worthy successor to Virat Kohli as India’s captain in time to come.

The KXIP brigade will head into the match with no shortage of confidence. If Rahul’s explosive knock led the batting, the bowlers did a fair job to skittle the Royal Challengers for 109. Sheldon Cottrell, West Indies’ leading wicket-taker in last year’s World Cup has been giving them early breakthroughs while Mohammed Shami continues to be as deadly as ever. Couple that with the leg-spin of Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin, KXIP already seem to have found a settled bowling unit. The Royals, after being run close by Chennai Super Kings in the opening match, are expected to be tested again.

But like Rahul, the Royals have their own trump card in Sanju Samson, for whom the season is so crucial considering India would want to head into next year’s T20 World Cup with their best wicketkeeper batsman. He has already scored more runs than Rishabh Pant in two innings combined, but on Saturday, he will be up against his competitor Rahul, who hasn’t done a bad job keeping wickets for KXIP in both the matches.

What: Rajasthan Royals vs Kings XI Punjab, Match 9

When: Sunday, September 27, 2020

Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah

Team News

Rajasthan Royals: With Jos Buttler set to return to the Playing XI, David Miller, who was run out the other night without facing a ball, might be the unlucky one to sit out. Tom Curran proved expensive with the ball but his all-round skills can’t be counted out.

Probable XI: 1 Jos Buttler (Wicketkeeper), 2 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 3 Sanju Samson, 4 Steve Smith (Captain), 5 Robin Uthappa, 6 Rahul Tewatia, 7 Riyan Parag, 8 Tom Curran, 9 Jofra Archer, 9 Shreyas Gopal, 11 Jaydev Undakat

Kings XI Punjab: Ruthless with the bat, clinical with the ball. Don’t see a reason why KXIP have to tinker with a Playing XI that registered a crushing win. Even if that means that Chris Gayle sits out a third straight game in a row, be it.

Probable XI: 1 KL Rahul (Captain/Wicketkeeper), 2 Mayank Agarwal, 3 Nicholas Pooran, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Karun Nair, 6 Sarfaraz Khan, 7 James Neesham, 8 Murugan Ashwin, 9 Ravi Bishnoi, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Sheldon Cottrell

Stats and Trivia –

– Maxwell is two wickets away from 100 wickets in T20s

– Unadkat has a bowling average of 49.67 against KXIP

– Since IPL 2018, Rahul has scored 235 against RR in four innings with an average of 117.50.

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