KXIP lock horns with RR with both teams aiming for their first win of IPL 2015 © IANS
KXIP lock horns with RR with both teams aiming for their first win of IPL 2015 © IANS

The runners-up of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014, Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), take on a dangerous looking Rajasthan Royals in the third match of the IPL 2015 tournament at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Friday. Rajasthan Royals (RR) in IPL 2015: Street-smart cricket once again on the cards

The match will be an away game for the Rajasthan Royals (RR) and a home game for the George Bailey-led KXIP, who would aim to make necessary amends and try to get off to a winning start. The Rajasthan Royals’ captain, Shane Watson has already spoken about how important it is to get wins under the belt in the early stages of the IPL, and thus, this game promises to be a cracker of a contest between the two sides. IPL 2015: Rahul Dravid and the art of cricket team management

Both Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) boast of many Australian players, and the presence of the members from ICC Cricket World Cup 2015-winning team will give their respective management hopes of strong performances from their sides. While Rajasthan Royals (RR) have Watson, Steven Smith and James Faulkner in their ranks, the KXIP have the likes of Bailey, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh and the ‘big show’ Glenn Maxwell. IPL 2015: Rahul Dravid calls for stricter laws to deal with spot-fixing

Both Punjab and Rajasthan have seem to be evenly matched given the similar kind of firepower in their respective squads. However, someone like Maxwell, who can not only turn the tables in a matter of few overs but can also take the game away from the opposition, could prove to be a differentiating factor. IPL 2015: Rahul Dravid, Ajinkya Rahane, Steven Smith, Shane Watson unveil new Rajasthan jersey

As far as forms are concerned, the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) will be pleased with the way their main batsmen such as Maxwell, Bailey and even David Miller performed in the World Cup. The presence of veteran Virender Sehwag in the top makes Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) an extremely dangerous side, as the right-handed dasher still has lot of cricket left in him, which he has proven in the domestic season this year. IPL 2015: Kings XI Punjab, Rajasthan Royals teams to watch out for

Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) also have Murali Vijay, whom they picked in the IPL 2015 auction. Vijay’s inclusion was perhaps their best buy in the auction as he is richly experienced as far as IPL is concerned, and he has the technique and temperament which helps him score heaps of runs even in the Twenty20 format. IPL 2015: Rajasthan Royals sign Kalasalingam University as associate sponsor

For Rajasthan, the three key men with the bat will be Smith, Ajinkya Rahane and Watson. Both Smith and Rahane have had excellent run in the past four months and they have transformed into run machines irrespective of the formats. Watson too has been among the run-scorers, and the others such as Sanju Samson, Stuart Binny and Faulkner in the lower-order provide them hope of good totals in the eighth season of the IPL. Rajasthan Royals (RR) in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015: Statistical Preview

Johnson will continue to be the leader of the Kings XI Punjab’s (KXIP) pace attack, whereas Akshar Patel will be the man responsible in the spin department. Johnson had a decent run in the World Cup, and he would be pleased with the way he went about his job back home. On the other hand, Akshar was a member of India’s touring party in the World Cup, but he did not get a match. The left-arm lanky pacer, who rose to fame and to the national side with impressive show in the IPL 2014, would once again like to get going and strengthen his position. Rajasthan Royals needs to get off good start in IPL 2015: Shane Watson

Tim Southee, Faulkner and Pravin Tambe will be the key bowlers for Rajasthan Royals, supported by Watson, Binny and few others. Chris Morris and Juan Theron were the two overseas players picked by Rajasthan in the IPL 2015 auction, but there is no surety if they will get a place in the playing eleven. IPL 2015: Kane Richardson ruled out for Rajsthan Royals, this season

KXIP may feel that they are the better side against Rajasthan Royals (RR), but it will be a mistake to not give their opponents the due respect, especially in this format where unpredictability is at its peak. Rajasthan Royals pay Rs 15 crore to ED

Squads:

Kings XI Punjab (KXIP): George Bailey (c), Akshar Patel, Anureet Singh, Beuran Hendricks, David Miller, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Johnson, Manan Vohra, Mandeep Singh, Gurkareet Mann Singh, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Karanveer Singh, Rishi Dhawan, Manan Vohra, Parvinder Awana, Sandeep Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Shaun Marsh, Shivam Sharma, Thisara Perera, Virender Sehwag, Murali Vijay, Nikhil Naik, Yogesh Golwalkar.

Rajasthan Royals (RR): Shane Watson (c), Abhishek Nayar, Ajinkya Rahane, Ankit Nagendra Sharma, Ben Cutting, Deepak Hooda, Dhawal Kulkarni, Dishant Yagnik, James Faulkner, Kane Richardson, Karun Nair, Pravin Tambe, Rahul Tewatia, Rajat Bhatia, Sanju Samson (wk), Steven Smith, Stuart Binny, Tim Southee, Vikramjeet Malik, Chris Morris, Juan Theron, Barinder Singh Saran, Dinesh Salunkhe, Sagar Trivedi, Pardeep Sahu

Time: 20.00 IST | 14.30 GMT

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)