Mohali: An inconsistent Kings XI Punjab will look to sort their bowling woes and regain the momentum when they host a rejuvenated Rajasthan Royals in an Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter in Mohali on Thursday.
The R Ashwin-led Kings XI slipped to number fifth spot after suffering back-to-back losses against Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore respectively. Overall, the hosts have registered four wins from eight matches.
The bowling attack of Kings XI has been good only in patches. They failed to defend 197 against MI the other day with Kieron Pollard's knock of 31-ball 83 blowing them away.
In their last game against RCB, Punjab's bowling again failed as they allowed the opposition overhaul the target of 173 with four balls to spare.
Mohammed Shami, Andrew Tye and all-rounder Sam Curran bled too many runs to hurt the hosts and they will need to bowl a tight line to support their skipper R Ashwin, who has the ability to frustrate even top batsmen with his intelligent bowling.
"We let ourselves down on the field. We have a few more games at home and we need to string some wins and gain some momentum," Ashwin had said.
Rajasthan, on the other hand, come into this match with a win under their belt. They defeated Mumbai Indians on the latter's home turf by four wickets and are currently placed at the seventh spot with two wins from seven matches.
Opener Jos Buttler's 43-ball 89 was the cornerstone of Rajasthan's chase of 188 against Mumbai. He was supported well by Rahane's 37 and Sanju Samson's 31 to achieve the victory target.
The only other match which Rajasthan won was against RCB, in which Buttler again played a key role, hitting 59 runs when his team was chasing a target of 159.
If Buttler boosts Royals' batting, Kings XI have Chris Gayle, who smashed an unbeaten 99 to single-handedly anchor Punjab to 173 against RCB in the previous game.
Other Punjab opener KL Rahul also have been in good form but his 64-ball unbeaten 100 too went in vain when MI chased down 197 to hand them a three-wicket loss.
KXIP have been a dominant side on their home ground and they would hope that the loss to RCB in the previous match here was an aberration.
Kings XI have the likes of Mayank Agarwal, David Miller, Sam Curran and Mandeep Singh to bolster their batting, but they will need to play good knocks to support their openers.
For Rajasthan, Buttler has been the top-scorer but their batting line-up also includes skipper Rahane, Samson and Steve Smith and they will need to deliver to confront Kings XI at IS Bindra PCA stadium in Mohali.
Rajasthan Royals pacer Jofra Archer has troubled the batsmen with his fast bouncers and deadly yorkers and would look for another good outing Tuesday.
Among others, seamers Jaydev Unadkat and Dhawal Kulkarni along with spinner Shreyas Gopal would have to deliver for their skipper if they have to stay alive and make it to the Playoffs.
English all-rounder Ben Strokes, who failed to defend 18 runs in the last over against Chennai Super Kings, had missed the last match due to an injury and it remains to be seen if he makes a comeback against Punjab.
Rajasthan Royals: Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Ashton Turner, Ish Sodhi, Oshane Thomas, Liam Livingstone, Ajinkya Rahane (C), Sanju Samson (WK), Shubham Ranjane, Stuart Binny, Shreyas Gopal, Sudhesan Midhun, Jaydev Unadkat, Prashant Chopra, Mahipal Lomror, Aryaman Birla, Riyan Parag, Dhawal Kulkarni, Krishnappa Gowtham, Varun Aaron, Shashank Singh, Manan Vohra, Rahul Tripathi.
Kings XI Punjab: Lokesh Rahul (WK), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, Ravichandran Ashwin (C), Andrew Tye, Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rehman, Karun Nair, Moises Henriques, Varun Chakravarthi, Harpreet Brar, Simran Singh, Nicholas Pooran (WK), Hardus Viljoen, Ankit Rajpoot, Arshdeep Singh, Darshan Nalkande, Agnivesh Ayachi.
The match will start at 8 pm and will be shown live on TV by Star Sports Network. The match can also be steamed live on Hotstar.
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Arshdeep also lauded the exceptional performance of teammate Ravi Bishnoi. The miserly leg-spinner picked up one wicket during the match and gave away only 13 runs from his four overs.
Earlier this month, CSK skipper MS Dhoni overtook Suresh Raina (194 games) to become the player with most appearances.
Chasing a target of 150, KXIP achieved the target in 18.5 overs losing only two wickets as they have now won their fifth successive match to keep play-off hopes alive.