Kings XI Punjab host Rajasthan Royals at Indore    AFP
Kings XI Punjab host Rajasthan Royals at Indore AFP

VIVO IPL 2018 Match 38 will see Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) host bottom-of-the-table Rajasthan Royals (RR) at Holkar Stadium, Indore. Neither side is going through the best of phases, though to be fair, KXIP has merely lost momentum after a long break. The change in home venue may have played a part in their drubbing in their last match. However, skipper Ravichandran Ashwin, as wily as they make them, will be desperate for a quick revival. RR, on the other hand, have been lacklustre throughout the tournament except perhaps the odd success.

Coming from a week-long rest, KXIP failed to carry the winning momentum in their last clash, against Mumbai Indians (MI). Riding on Chris Gayle’s fifty, they were going well at the halfway stage. However, Gayle’s dismissal led to a brake on the scoring. Their middle- and lower-order woes came to haunt them again. Marcus Stoinis’ late blitz took them to 174 for 6, but it turned out to be too less: they lost with an over to spare.

RR, on the other hand, are coming on the back off a close defeat, against Delhi Daredevils (DD). From fifth spot they slid to the bottom of the pile. Their big buys Ben Stokes and Jaydev Unadkat have not delivered, and an unsettled batting order (Jos Buttler finally opened the innings in their 8th game) are glaring issues. Ajinkya Rahane’s RR have to search for the answers quickly, and hope for a much-better execution to stay alive in the competition.

KXIP Likely XI: KL Rahul (wk), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Yuvraj Singh/Manoj Tiwary, Karun Nair, Akshar Patel, Marcus Stoinis, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Andrew Tye, Ankit Rajpoot/Mohit Sharma.

RR Likely XI: D’Arcy Short, Jos Buttler (wk), Sanju Samson, Ajinkya Rahane (c), Ben Stokes, Rahul Tripathi, Krishnappa Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat

Predictions: KXIP would be eager to revamp after a loss against MI. Adjusting from Mohali to Indore can be tough, but expect them to walk past a struggling RR. The small ground is ideal for a big score. If Rahul and Gayle make use of the short boundaries, KXIP will be off to a flier yet again. In head-to-head records, RR are 9-6 ahead. Will they beat fourth-ranked KXIP?