Desperate Royals run into Kings XI again

Desperate Royals run into Kings XI again

K L Rahul (left) will get another chance to boost his tally when Kings XI Punjab takes on Ajinkya Rahane's Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday.

Languishing at the bottom of the table, Rajasthan Royals need nothing less than a miracle to remain in contention for the IPL Play-offs when they take on Kings XI Punjab in a do-or-die battle, here on Tuesday.

Three consecutive defeats have more or less sealed their fate and for things to turn around for the Royals, every aspect of their game needs to improve and click for them.

They are taking on Punjab, placed third in the table, just a day after losing to them by six wickets in Indore, where neither the bowlers nor the batsmen could do a convincing job.

Nothing has gone right for the winners of the inaugural edition of the IPL, who lost their pillar -- Australian Steven Smith -- to the ball-tampering scandal.

The lacklustre performance of their batsmen and bowlers have landed them in a position where they need to win all their remaining games and also pray for favourable results in order to qualify for the play-offs.

The hosts are back on their home turf, where they have recorded two of their three victories, but they need to start afresh. Three consecutive defeats, including a narrow one against Delhi Daredevils, have left them demoralised and their mentor, the legendary Shane Warne, too wore a dejected look in the dugout from where he saw the Royals miss out on half chances.

Average performance by captain Ajinkya Rahane and below-par show of English all-rounder Ben Stokes and Rahul Tripathi has hurt them badly and the hosts need all these batsmen to fire.

West Indian bowler Jofra Archer, though, has been impressive and the only saving grace for them while expensive pacer Jaydev Unadkat has been a complete let-down, taking just seven wickets at a poor 9.86 economy rate.

On the other hand, the visitors are back to winning ways after the emphatic victory on Sunday and would look to consolidate their position in the top-four. Punjab can even take the second place if they win on Tuesday, provided they improve their NRR.

They rely heavily on good partnerships between Chris Gayle and K L Rahul, while the bowling has variety with R Ashwin, Axar Patel and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, proving more than a handful for their rivals.