Royals look to confirm playoff spot
Friday, May 23, 2014
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)
Rajasthan Royals looked like they were breezing to the playoff stage along with Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings a few days back. After the loss against Mumbai Indians, however, they are feeling the squeeze. Stuck on 14 points, they need a win against Kings XI in Mohali to avoid a must-win situation in their last match against Mumbai Indians.
Kings XI have no such problems. They are sitting pretty with 18 points. The question is, can they make sure they end the league stage at the top too so that they get the cushion of an extra chance to make it to final? A lot will depend on their batting to achieve that goal since the pitch in Mohali is not likely to aid their bowlers. On Wednesday, against Mumbai Indians, their best bowler this season - Sandeep Sharma - was neutralised as he couldn't get any swing or seam on a greenish surface. That Mumbai Indians' slower bowlers were hard to hit would mean that Pravin Tambe and Rajat Bhatia could play decisive roles.
Kings XI Punjab: LWWLW (completed games, most recent first)
Rajasthan Royals: LWLWL
Where they stand
Kings XI Punjab: First, with 18 points from 12 games
Rajasthan Royals: Fourth, with 14 points from 12 games
The two teams met in Sharjah last month in a high-scoring match in which Kings XI Punjab prevailed by seven wickets. Royals put up a seemingly watertight total of 191 after everyone in their batting order chipped in and struck a couple of early blows. But then the Maxwell-Miller show happened and Kings XI chased down the target in the 19th over.
Watch out for
Team selections. It can be argued that one reason for both teams' reverses in their respective previous matches was the changes they made to their XI. The absence of David Miller in Kings XI not only meant the loss of a batsman in form, but it also meant that the batting order had to be tinkered with, disturbing their usual approach. Royals' tactics of benching three first-choice players was even more unusual given they were still not through to playoffs.
It's been a while since Glenn Maxwell's last deadly assault on bowlers. He has scored 98 runs in his last five outings with a highest of 43, a drastic dip from the 435 he scored in the first seven matches. In this period, he has also been pipped by Robin Uthappa as the leading run-scorer in this edition. Has the Maxwell phenomena run out of steam already? Hope not.
Stats and trivia
- Six times out of 12, Maxwell has been dismissed by a legspinner in this IPL. Pravin Tambe, take note.
- Kings XI have six of the top 10 team totals in this edition of the IPL. Royals are the only ones to appears more than once - twice
- Royals have beaten Kings XI eight times in 12 IPL matches. In Mohali, they have won three matches out of five
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo