All eyes on Ashwin vs Buttler as Royals seek revenge against faltering KXIP
Controversy erupted the last time R Ashwin and Jos Buttler were up against each other. (BCCI Image)

It’s time for version 2.0 of the match that triggered perhaps the biggest controversy of the season when R Ashwin ran Jos Buttler out at the non-striker’s end. And even though Kings XI Punjab have been far more superior than Rajasthan Royals this season, both two teams are separated by two spots on the points-table.

The Royals broke their losing spree against Mumbai Indians, while KXIP took a defeat from the Royal Challengers Bangalore, which was their first at home this year. They’re coming off consecutive defeats and would be keen on re-enter the top 4, having pushed down by a resurgent Delhi Capitals. That said, as we get set to enter a key phase of the tournament, there room for error is bare minimum. KXIP’s fielding was sloppy in the previous game, with catches being put down and multiple errors committed on the outfield. That’s a slide they’d want to arrest urgently.

The Royals have issues of their own to address. Their win against Mumbai highlighted some glaring concerns for Ajinkya Rahane and his side, the biggest being a fragile lower order. Mumbai Indians almost escaped with a win after their middle order collapsed for 27 for 4 with Sanju Samson, Rahul Tripathi, Liam Livingstone and Steve Smith perishing in quick succession. It was also the same middle order that costed RR the match when the two teams had met earlier this year.

KXIP will next play their home match in May. Hence, before embarking on a long away stretch, they’d want to ensure that the Royals’ joy remains short-lived.

What: Kings XI Punjab vs Rajasthan Royals

When: Tuesday, April 16

Venue: PCA Stadium, Mohali

Time: 8 PM IST

Weather: Scattered rain and overcast conditions throughout the day

Team News

King XI Punjab

As R Ashwin revealed, both his changes for the game against RCB were forced with Andrew Tye coming in for Hardus Viljoen and Murugan Ashwin replacing Ankit Rajpoot. After a forgettable outing for the Australia pacer, he may once again sit out with Viljoen taking his place back in the side. M Ashwin bowled a tidy spell of 0/24 and might be given the preference ahead of Rajpoot.

Probable XI: 1 Chris Gayle, 2 KL Rahul, 3 Mayank Agarwal, 4 Sarfaraz Khan, 5 Mandeep Singh, 6 Sam Curran, 7 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 8 R Ashwin (capt), 9 Hardus Viljoen/Andrew Tye, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Murugan Ashwin

Rajasthan Royals

Rahane might be tempted to stick to the combination that gave Rajasthan their second win of the season but they’d have to expect a lot more from their brittle middle order. Liam Livingstone picked up 0 for 13 and scored 1, and it wouldn’t be a bad choice for the Royals to swap him with Ish Sodhi in a like-for-like replacement.

Probable XI: 1 Ajinkya Rahane (capt), 2 Jos Buttler, 3 Sanju Samson (wk), 4 Rahul Tripathi, 5 Steve Smith, 6 Liam Livingstone/Ish Sodhi, 7 Shreyas Gopal, 8 Krishnappa Gowtham, 9 Jofra Archer, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Dhawal Kulkarni

Head to head

Overall: 18

KXIP won: 8

RR won: 10

Stats

– KL Rahul needs six runs to aggregate 1000 for KXIP

Quotes

“Obviously you need to be in the crease. We’ve seen it even in the other games, everyone’s having it in their minds. But these are small things and we’ll have that in control.” – Rajasthan legspinner Shreyas Gopal.