Two teams that have underperformed in the IPL despite having a decent squad on paper are Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab, now Punjab Kings. Rajasthan Royals finished at the bottom of the points table in the previous season but they were just two points behind Sunrisers Hyderabad, who finished third. A game here and there and they could have made it to the playoffs.
Once again they go into the tournament with massive expectations. However, the loss of Jofra Archer ahead of the IPL 2021 is a huge blow. They took some key decisions and released Steve Smith, who was with them for a long time, and also handed their reigns to Sanju Samson. They'll be hoping for a better show this time around.
Rajasthan have a terrific overseas contingent and it will be interesting to see whom they start with. While Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Chris Morris seem certainties, they’ll have to take a tough call and pick one between David Miller and Liam Livingstone.
Punjab Kings too looks a decent team with Dawid Malan, Chris Gayle and Nicolas Pooran available at their disposal. In addition, they have KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, who were on fire in the previous season. In the bowling department, they have some quality options available in Mohammed Shami, Riley Meredith, Jhye Richardson and Moises Henriques. The young spinners did well in the last season and the same would be expected of them in the 2021 edition as well.
Pitch and weather report - The match will be played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The wicket will be good for batting and we could be in for another high scoring encounter. The weather also looks good with temperatures hovering around the early 20’s.
Rajasthan Royals will have to take a tough call and select one between Miller and Livingstone as the fourth overseas player with Buttler, Morris and Stokes almost certain to start.
With the bat, or the ball, Stokes can be a match-winner. On his day, he can single-handedly win the game for his team.
Probable XI - Ben Stokes, Yashasvi Jaiswal/Liam Livingstone, Sanju Samson (C), Jos Buttler (WK), Riyan Parag, Shivam Dube, Rahul Tewatia, Chris Morris, Shreyas Gopal, Andrew Tye/Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi
Dawid Malan, Nicolas Pooran, Riley Meredith and Jhye Richardson are expected to be their first choice overseas players.
Rahul was the orange cap holder in the previous season and has a decent record against Punjab, scoring 390 runs at an average of 55.71 and a strike rate of 125.40.
Probable XI - Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul (C and WK), Chris Gayle/Dawid Malan, Nicholas Pooran, Sarfaraz Khan/Deepak Hooda, Mandeep Singh/Shahrukh Khan, Chris Jordan/Fabian Allen, Jhye Richardson/Riley Meredith, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Mohammed Shami