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Big-hitting batsmen on show in battle of wicketkeeper captains

Preview

Sanju Samson’s maiden game as IPL captain will be in focus

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It’s a clash of two underachievers. Punjab Kings, the biggest auction spenders by virtue of having the bigger purse, now want to translate potential into performance. Rajasthan Royals, wooden spooners of the previous season, are looking to start afresh under a new captain in Sanju Samson, but have to make up for the lack of experience.

There’s plenty of firepower, no doubt. Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran bring explosive hitting for the Kings. Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes will try and negate that for the Royals. Kings have the exuberance of KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal at the top of the order, but Royals will bank on the inexperience of either Manan Vohra or Yashasvi Jaiswal to partner Stokes, having off-loaded Robin Uthappa to the Chennai Super Kings.

Royals don’t just have batting issues around Samson, Stokes and Buttler to sort. Their middle order looks fairly inexperienced, and Riyan Parag will be expected to deliver more consistently than he has, along with Shivam Dube and last season’s breakout star Rahul Tewatia. Without Jofra Archer, the bowler lacks a bit of hostility, which they’ll have to try and make up through the smarts of Chris Morris, the costliest IPL buy, and Mustafizur Rahman or Andrew Tye.

In the news

Jofra Archer will miss the first four games, after undergoing a finger surgery in the last week of March in England. He’s also been troubled by an elbow issue. In his absence, it’s likely one of Mustafizur or Tye will get the nod. It’s likely they won’t have the services of David Miller, who is still finishing quarantine and has to undergo a few medical tests before getting a clearance. Kings have everyone fit and available for selection.

Likely XIs

Rajasthan Royals: 1 Ben Stokes, 2 Yashasvi Jaiswal/Manan Vohra, 3 Sanju Samson (capt, wk), 4 Jos Buttler, 5 Riyan Parag, 6 Shivam Dube, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Rahul Tewatia, 9 Shreyas Gopal, 10 Andrew Tye, 11 Kartik Tyagi/Jaydev Unadkat

Punjab Kings: 1 KL Rahul (capt, wk), 2 Mayank Agarwal, 3 Chris Gayle, 4 Nicholas Pooran, 5 Moises Henriques, 6 Shahrukh Khan, 7 Jalaj Saxena/Saurabh Kumar, 8 Riley Meredith, 9 M Ashwin/Ravi Bishnoi, 10 Arshdeep Singh, 11 Mohammed Shami

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