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52nd Match (D/N), Wankhede, May 07, 2022, Indian Premier League
(19.4/20 ov, T:190) 190/4

Royals won by 6 wickets (with 2 balls remaining)


Kings, Royals need fresh spark to revive playoff fortunes

Chahal's form has dipped slightly, Agarwal doesn't have the runs - which side's senior members will stand up?

Sreshth Shah
Sreshth Shah

Big picture

Two sides who are beginning to forget the art of winning face off in a fixture that has big implications. Three losses in their last five games has left Punjab Kings playing catch up in the race for the playoffs. Rajasthan Royals, too, seem to be slipping just as the teams below them are making their charge. Both teams need a win. Anything less and their lives could get a bit tricky.
Mayank Agarwal is due for a big score, but he pushed himself down the order in their last game allowing Jonny Bairstow to open alongside Shikhar Dhawan. Is that the plan now? With overseas batters Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Liam Livingstone in good touch, what Kings need is for their lower-middle order of Indians - that might just also include Agarwal - to come good. If they hold up their end of the bargain, there's enough skill between Kagiso Rabada, Rahul Chahar, Arshdeep Singh and others to realistically trouble Royals through the 20 overs.
As for Royals, their inability to go past 160 in their losses against Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders will be concerning. So too Yuzvendra Chahal's recent lack of wickets. IPL 2022's purple-cap holder has struck just twice in four games. What they need to overcome the Kings challenge is wickets in the powerplay from Trent Boult and Prasidh Krishna. That will then set the spinners up and re-establish what some have been saying all through the IPL: Royals have the most well-rounded bowling attack this season.

Likely XIs

Punjab Kings: 1 Jonny Bairstow, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Mayank Agarwal (capt), 4 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 5 Liam Livingstone, 6 Jitesh Sharma (wk), 7 Rishi Dhawan, 8 Rahul Chahar, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Arshdeep Singh, 11 Sandeep Sharma
Rajasthan Royals: 1 Jos Buttler, 2 Devdutt Padikkal, 3 Sanju Samson (capt, wk), 4 Karun Nair / Yashasvi Jaiswal, 5 Riyan Parag, 6 Shimron Hetmyer, 7 R Ashwin, 8 Trent Boult, 9 Prasidh Krishna, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Kuldeep Sen

Strategy punt

    Do Royals move away from Devdutt Padikkal and go back to Yashasvi Jaiswal? Padikkal had 12 dots in his 15-ball innings against Mumbai and was out for a boundary-less five-ball knock against KKR. In the game before that, he suffered six dots in a seven-ball innings against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Those three scores have corresponded with the otherwise high-scoring Royals making only 144, 158 and 152 in their last three games. Jaiswal was dropped after a poor run - 20, 1 and 4 - early in the season. He must be itching to get back and prove his worth.

Stats that matter

  • Sides batting first have won two of the last five games at the Wankhede. The last afternoon game here was won by the side batting first too.
  • With a game in hand, Rabada is two wickets shy of purple-cap holder Chahal's tally of 19.
  • Buttler - the orange cap holder - is 385 runs away from beating Virat Kohli's record-setting 973-run season in IPL 2016. He has also hit the most sixes (25) at the Wankhede since IPL 2019.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx

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