Clash of philosophies between Australia-centric teams
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Start time 1830 (1430 GMT, 2000 IST)
On Friday these two teams, built largely around Australians, played their first matches on the same pitch against different opponents. Kings XI Punjab were profligate with the ball, relying mainly on Mitchell Johnson who didn't come off on the day, but still chased 200-plus comfortably thanks to a powerful batting line-up that includes Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and George Bailey, and Virender Sehwag who, despite poor form, can't be ruled out against the lower standard of bowling and fielding in the IPL.
Rajasthan Royals, later in the day, on the same surface but under lights, turned their match into a scrappy affair, and huffed and puffed through in a chase of 134. This will be a clash of philosophies that have been successful in their individual ways in their first matches. Kings XI have gone the specialists way and are batting-heavy, Royals have a fair sprinkling of bits-and-pieces allrounders and are bowling-heavy. Kings XI will be thinking if only they can get their bowling in place, they can be a strong force this season. Royals will be looking at their batting with a similar emotion.
Watch out for ...
Glenn Maxwell's audacious hitting as both right- and left-hand batsman is sure to become a headache for fielding captains. In his 95 off 43 balls against Chennai Super Kings, he switch-hit and reverse-swept with such precision he almost eliminated risk, and opened up areas of the field that aren't conventionally available. Will the four Australian team-mates present in the Royals be able to come up with a plan to rein him in?
Royals had three bits-and-pieces allrounders in their starting XI in the first game. Rajat Bhatia, Stuart Binny and Abhishek Nayar are three of the most valuable cricketers in Indian domestic cricket, but they are essentially varying degrees of the same player: steady medium-pacers who won't find a place as batsmen alone. How long will this combination continue?
Stats and trivia
- Maxwell's strike rate in chases of 180 or more is 172
- Mitchell Johnson's figures of 4-0-47-0 on Friday were his second-worst in T20 cricket
- James Faulkner has faced 36 balls in last overs of T20 cricket, and has scored 58 runs off them
- Brad Hodge needs 15 runs to become the first man to the 6000-run mark in T20 cricket
"We have to lift the bowling and fielding a little bit as we know this is not going to happen every day. If it happens like this every time, then we are happy, but we have to improve on our bowling."
George Bailey knows 200 cannot be chased down every day
"Me and Binny enjoy each other's company very well and it helped us in the middle today. He has improved a lot. I backed my instincts. I decided to take one ball at a time."
Ajinkya Rahane and Stuart Binny seem to have developed a friendship while carrying drinks during India's limited-overs tours of late
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo