Stuttering Royals look to find their form and seal top-two spot

India

Match details

Rajasthan Royals vs Punjab Kings
Guwahati, 7.30pm IST (2pm GMT)

Big picture: Who will replace Buttler for RR?

From being fairly well-placed to top the points table, Rajasthan Royals now run the risk of slipping out of the top two after suffering three successive defeats at the pointy end of the tournament. Lucknow Super Giants’ loss to Delhi Capitals means Royals are already through to the playoffs, but they need to win one or two matches to confirm a top-two finish in the league phase.

Jos Buttler’s departure to England for T20 World Cup duty has further complicated their path to the playoffs. It also remains to be seen whether Shimron Hetmyer has recovered sufficiently after missing Royals’ last two games with injury. Rovman Powell, who failed to finish chases against Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad, didn’t even make the side as an Impact Player against Chennai Super Kings on Sunday.

How can Royals fill the Buttler-sized hole at the top? They can yank Tom Kohler-Cadmore from the bench or bump Dhruv Jurel up the order. While Kohler-Cadmore is now a regular in other T20 leagues around the world, he is yet to play a T20 in India. And while Jurel often opens for Uttar Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy, he has opened the batting just once in T20 cricket.

Who should replace Buttler at the top for RR?

2.7K votes

Tom Kohler-Cadmore

Dhruv Jurel

As for Punjab Kings, they are no longer in contention for the playoffs and their only incentive now is to avoid the wooden spoon.

Form guide

Rajasthan Royals LLLWW (last five matches, most recent first)
Punjab Kings LLWWL

Team news and Impact Player strategy

Rajasthan Royals

Kohler-Cadmore might make his IPL debut on Wednesday unless Royals want to use Jurel as an opener instead. Royals might pick just three overseas players – Trent Boult, Hetmyer (assuming he’s fit) and Kohler-Cadmore – and later bring in Powell or Nandre Burger as an Impact Player depending on the game situation and conditions.

Probable XII: 1 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 2 Tom Kohler-Cadmore, 3 Sanju Samson (capt, wk), 4 Riyan Parag, 5 Dhruv Jurel, 6 Shimron Hetmyer, 7 R Ashwin, 8 Trent Boult, 9 Avesh Khan, 10 Sandeep Sharma, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal, 12 Nandre Burger/Rovman Powell/Keshav Maharaj

Punjab Kings

Liam Livingstone has left the IPL to get his knee “sorted” before the T20 World Cup, but his compatriots Sam Curran and Jonny Bairstow are available to PBKS for this fixture before they also head back to the UK to link up with the England squad. Karnataka swing bowler Vidwath Kaverappa will likely get another game as an Impact Player, with PBKS likely to replace him with a specialist batter. Kagiso Rabada has also returned home, meaning a probable start for Nathan Ellis.

Probable XII: 1 Prabhsimran Singh, 2 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 3 Rilee Rossouw, 4 Shashank Singh, 5 Jitesh Sharma, 6 Ashutosh Sharma, 7 Sam Curran (capt), 8 Harshal Patel, 9 Nathan Ellis, 10 Rahul Chahar, 11 Arshdeep Singh, 12 Vidwath Kaverappa/Harpreet Brar

In the spotlight: Riyan Parag and Jitesh Sharma

After having reeled off a world-record seven fifties in a row for Assam in the 20-overs Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy, Riyan Parag returns to Guwahati for his third match at the venue in the IPL. After having managed only 20 at No.6 against PBKS last season in Guwahati, the local boy has a chance to go bigger this time, given his recent form at No.4. He is 100 runs away from drawing level with Ruturaj Gaikwad as the second-highest run-getter this season, with Virat Kohli being the only batter to top 600 runs this season so far.

Jitesh Sharma began the IPL as India’s incumbent T20 keeper-batter, but his form nosedived so sharply that he was dropped for the upcoming World Cup. He has scored only 133 runs in ten innings at an average of 13.30 and a strike rate of under 125. His strike rate is the third lowest – behind Sam Curran (116.29) and Ajinkya Rahane (120.11) – among batters who have played at least ten innings this IPL. Can he remedy those numbers and end this season with a bang?

Stats that matter

  • Arshdeep Singh has a favourable match-up against Yashasvi Jaiswal in T20s, having dismissed him twice in 20 balls while conceding only 26 runs. Arshdeep vs Powell, though, is a more action-packed match-up: 56 runs off 28 balls with three dismissals.
  • Boult has played more than ten games at seven different opponents in the IPL. His average (43.6) and economy rate (9.98) are both at their worst against PBKS.
  • Yuzvendra Chahal has had a season of two chunks with the ball. In his first six matches, he picked up 11 wickets at an average of 14.81 and an economy rate of 7.40. In the next six, he took just four wickets, with the average climbing up to 68.75 and economy rate to 11.45.
  • Sanju Samson is three hits away from 300 T20 sixes.
  • Pitch and conditions

    This will be the first of two matches in Guwahati in IPL 2024. Only two games have been played at this venue so far in the IPL, with the team batting first winning on both occasions. There is a forecast for thunderstorms during the day, but the weather might clear up later in the evening.

    Quotes

    “We expect that the dew is going to set in early. The wicket is much better than it was in Chennai. We’re expecting a high-scoring game. But we won’t know till the first five or six balls are bowled.”
    Riyan Parag is wary of the dew factor in Guwahati

    Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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