MS Dhoni plays a shot
MS Dhoni will be itching to end the IPL campaign on a winning note © AFP

We are into the fag end of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016 and still don’t have the final four teams to feature in the Playoffs of this cash-rich event. However, this doesn’t matter for Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), as they have already stormed out of the race. And it is fitting to see these two teams battle in their final encounter, which will be nothing but a dead rubber. This match at Visakhapatnam may not attract attention but still promises to produce spectacular battles that will keep the crowd on its feet. Let’s walk through some of its key battles: FULL CRICKET SCORECARD, Rising Pune Supergiants, IPL 2016, Match 53 at Visakhapatnam

Murali Vijay vs Ravichandran Ashwin: We haven’t seen Ashwin catch the batmen in trance with his superior bowling skills in the batting Powerplay this summer. In fact, there were times when Ashwin didn’t get to complete his 4-over quota. Though his numbers in this season don’t speak volumes, he’ll play a crucial role in dismissing the in-form Murali Vijay. Given Vijay and his opening partner Hashim Amla are good players of pace, Dhoni might introduce Ashwin to make early inroads.

MS Dhoni vs Marcus Stoinis: Stoinis has been KXIP’s heartening aspect ever since he made debut. 146 runs and 8 wickets in a matter of just 7 games shows his calibre and class in the fastest and shortest format of the game. However, he’s likely to be pit against captain cool. Dhoni may not have had a good time as a leader, but has been decently performing with the bat. He has plundered runs at an average of 31.42 and will be itching to end the IPL campaign on a winning note. Nonetheless, as Stonis has been lethal with his wily off-cutters, it will be interesting to see whether Dhoni gets castled or takes Stoinis to the cleaners.

Hashim Amla vs Ashok Dinda: Amla recently made his debut and already has a 96-run knock to his name. It is nothing but a privilege to watch him bat in any format. Had he been picked in the first half of the tournament by KXIP, their placement in the points table would have been different. However, he’ll face the fiery pacer Dinda.

Dinda has scalped 10 wickets at an average of 21.50 and played a pivotal role in RPS’ very little success. His battle against the mighty Hash is sure to keep the IPL fans on the edge of their seats.

Ajinkya Rahane vs Mohit Sharma: Rahane has amassed 461 runs and is fourth in the Orange Cap list. In his last encounter for RPS, he’ll be itching to reach the 500-run mark for the third time in IPL. However, he’ll have to wrestle hard to score runs at a brisk rate against the disciplined Mohit.

Every time the KXIP captain handed the ball to Mohit, he hardly failed to provide impetus for his team. Be it with the new ball or in the death overs, he often found a way to keep a lid on the runs.

Akshar Patel vs Irfan Pathan: This will be a battle between the all-rounders. Both are southpaws and have displayed a stellar performance at the international level as well. While one has a hat-trick to his name at the domestic level, the other has in the international arena. While one is a slow left-arm bowler, the other is well know for his left-arm medium pace. Battle between Akshar and Irfan is sure entertain the crowd in this inconsequential contest.

(Kaustubh S. Mayekar, a reporter at CricketCountry, played cricket at U-16 level. Like his idol Rahul Dravid, he often shadow-practises cricket shots. His Twitter handle is @kaumedy_)