Battle of explosive top-orders as RR meet Punjab Kings

Battle of explosive top-orders as Rajasthan Royals meet Punjab Kings in IPL 2021

The match on Tuesday will be more about the kind of starts that the top-orders players provide

Chris Gayle of Punjab Kings plays a shot against Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2020. Credit: PTI File Photo

Liam Livingstone and Evin Lewis's explosive batting will meet its match in Chris Gayle's power and KL Rahul's finesse when the Rajasthan Royals lock horns with the Punjab Kings to improve upon their mid-table position in the Indian Premier League on Tuesday.

The two IPL teams have been perennial underachievers in the league and will be desperate to change their fortunes after disappointing one and all with their underwhelming performances over the past few seasons.

More so for the Punjab Kings, the only team that has lacked any kind of stability over the 14 seasons of IPL with captains and coaches being changed like musical chairs.

For skipper KL Rahul, who has been a prime performer in IPL, it will not just be about the runs he scores but also about how he leads the team with guidance from Anil Kumble, who will also want to prove his mettle as a franchise coach.

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However, the match on Tuesday will be more about the kind of starts that the top-order players can provide.

Liam Livingstone has been a rage in the shortest format for last couple of years now and is coming into his own with some great performances in 'The Hundred'. His potential opening partner is likely to be West Indies man Lewis, who has often been Indian cricket team's nemesis in various games.

Punjab's Mohammad Shami is expected to be partnered by either Chris Jordan or Nathan Ellis.

If Livingstone and Lewis can be explosive in the Powerplay overs, the Royals will expect skipper Sanju Samson to be more consistent in that number three position.

What will be to the Royals' advantage is that Punjab have a weak Indian bowling set-up save Shami and they have to depend on either Adil Rashid or Ravi Bishnoi for wrist spin. Their pace line-up with left-armer Arshdeep Singh as the domestic pick doesn't look to be the strongest.

The Royals' third and fourth foreign player in the playing XI will be interesting choices as Chris Morris as an all-rounder is a certainty, while the fourth slot will go to either David Miller in the middle-order or world's No. 1 T20 spinner Tabraiz Shamsi.

However, it is the Indian players like Rahul Tewatia, Riyan Parag, Jaydev Unadkat and Chetan Sakariya, who will like to step up their game in the next four weeks to ensure a play-off berth for the Royals, which many believe is the weakest team unit in the absence of Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler.

Similarly for the Punjab Kings, Rahul and Mayank Agarwal are expected to open with Chris Gayle still an enforcer par excellence at the age of 41, which will keep the Rajasthan bowlers on tenterhooks.

In the middle-order, Nicholas Pooran, who had a horrendous outing in the first phase, will like to give a far better account of himself along with M Shahrukh Khan.

The squads:

Rajasthan Royals: Sanju Samson (captain), Liam Livingstone, Evin Lewis, David Miller, Chris Morris, Oshane Thomas, Mustafizur Rahaman, Tabraiz Shamsi, Glenn Phillips, Chetan Sakariya, Riyan Parag, Rahul Tewatia, Akash Singh, Anuj Rawat, KC Cariappa, Yashashvi Jaiswal, Shivam Dube, Shreyas Gopal, Kartik Tyagi, Mayank Markande, Jaydev Unadkat, Kuldip Yadav, Mahipal Lomror.

Punjab Kings: KL Rahul (captain), Mayank Agarwal, Arshdeep Singh, Ishan Porel, Shahrukh Khan, Mohammed Shami, Nathan Ellis, Adil Rashid, Murugan Ashwin, Harpreet Brar, Moises Henriques, Chris Jordan, Aiden Markram, Mandeep Singh, Darsan Nalkande, Prabhsimran Singh, Ravi BIshnoi, Utkarsh Singh, Fabian Allen, Saurabh Kumar, Jalaj Saxena.

The match starts at 7:30 pm IST.