Steve Smith returns as Rajasthan opt to bowl against Punjab
R Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane would be looking forward to the Indian T20 League to provide a case for themselves for India's limited-overs selection. (BCCI Image)

Playing their first match of the 2019 Indian T20 League, Rajasthan captain Ajinkya Rahane won the toss and opted to bowl against Punjab on Monday. At the Sawai Mansingh stadium, Punjab are yet to win the match and it will be up to their openers Chris Gayle and KL Rahul to provide them a good start. (READ: Match Highlights)

Rahane confirmed Australia’s Steve Smith, England wicketkeeper batsman Jos Buttler, allrounders Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes as their four overseas players, while for Punjab, it’ll be Gayle, his West Indies teammate Nicholas Pooran, Afghanistan wristspinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Sam Curran the four overseas inclusions with the England allrounder making his Indian T20 League debut.

“It’s important to start well, and the preparation that we have had has been fantastic. We need to start well, get some momentum, and stay in the moment. We’ll bowl first. Looks like a good wicket. Won’t change much. It’s all about staying in the process and staying in the process,” Rajasthan captain Ajinkya Rahane said at the toss.

Ashwin admitted he would have wanted to bowl first as well. “New recruits in the side, lots of young talent. New season, new hopes. Don’t think the wicket will change much, but we were also looking to bowl first. Hopefully with our bowling attack we can defend the score. As far as this bunch goes, they are very keen, and there is no baggage from the past (given that Kings XI haven’t won a game at this stadium), so we don’t care about the old records,” said the offspinner.

Rajasthan Playing XI: Ajinkya Rahane(c), Jos Buttler(w), Steven Smith, Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson, Krishnappa Gowtham, Rahul Tripathi, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Dhawal Kulkarni

Punjab Playing XI: Chris Gayle, Lokesh Rahul(w), Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, Nicholas Pooran, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, Ravichandran Ashwin(c), Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Ankit Rajpoot