Rajasthan Royals vs Punjab Kings — fireworks on the cards (preview)

Punjab Kings and Rajasthan Royals – the two IPL teams with exceptional batting muscle – will look to change their fortunes when they clash in the battle for the fourth spot here on Tuesday. For the record, KL Rahuls Punjab are placed sixth in the IPL 2021 points tally right now, whereas Sanju Samsons Royals are sitting in fifth position below Mumbai Indians.

If cricket pundits are to be believed, Tuesday’s match would be a treat to watch for the fans inside the stadium. And the reasons are quite clear because both sides have some hard-hitters in their respective opening slots.

The mighty show!

Evin Lewis and Liam Livingstone’s power batting will meet its match in the giant -Chris Gayle’s strength and skipper KL Rahul’s tactics. Royals lost a talisman in Jos Buttler but in Lewis they may have a reasonable replacement.

Livingstone, for the last couple of years, has been in phenomenal form in the shortest format of the game. He is coming to Dubai on the back of some stunning show in ‘The Hundred’. It is most likely that he may open with West Indies’ Lewis on Tuesday.

If the duo manages to give Royals an explosive start in Powerplay overs, the men-in-blue will expect skipper Sanju Samson to be more consistent in that number three position. Not to forget the all-rounder Chris Morris. He may not be in South Africa’s plans anymore but he remains a formidable force. He is also the second-highest wicket-taker this IPL season (14).

For Punjab, Rahul and Mayank Agarwal are expected to open with Chris Gayle. Even at the age of 41, he is unstoppable when on good touch. On Monday, Punjab also posted a video of Gayle sweating it out in the nets, sending a clear warning to the opposition side. It will also be Gayle’s 40th match for Punjab after joining the team from Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in 2018.

Punjab have lost a bit of firepower in blowing with Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith choosing not to join them for the IPL’s resumption. And while that robs them of express pace — an advantage in any form of cricket — they still possess bowlers capable of causing problems. Like Nathan Ellis. The 26-year-old death-overs specialist took a hat-trick on T20I debut and is expected to set the IPL alight.

Head-to-head record

The Royals and Punjab have met each other on 22 occasions. Samson’s side has won 12 times while Rahul’s team has emerged victorious 10 times.

The squads:

Punjab Kings: KL Rahul (capt, wk), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Deepak Hooda, Nicholas Pooran, Shahrukh Khan, Fabian Allen/Adil Rashid, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Nathan Ellis, Mohammed Shami.

Rajasthan Royals: Evin Lewis, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson (capt, wk), Liam Livingstone, Riyan Parag, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Rahul Tewatia, Kartik Tyagi, Mustafizur Rahman, Chetan Sakariya/Jaydev Unadkat.