Two teams and one play-off spot that they would be fighting for makes this contest an intriguing and crucial clash, given that both of them are on the back of a win in their previous encounters. However, only one of them - KXIP or RR - will come out on top in Friday's clash.
Kings XI Punjab - W W W W W
Shouldn’t this form guide be enough to suggest that Kings XI Punjab are the in-form team? They are ready to wallop opposition as per their own will after having endured a tough start to this year’s competition, where none of the games went in their favour despite them leading the opponent in almost half of the encounter. Punjab would walk into this encounter on the back of an impressive all-round display against Kolkata Knight Riders, where they did not give a ray of hope to the opposition in the complete demolition of a project, both restricting them to a score of 149 in Sharjah before chasing it with eight wickets to spare. So expect them to come out of the box against RR in the crucial fixture that would change the complexion of the IPL table.
Rajasthan Royals - W L W L L
On the other hand, there is a Rajasthan Royals side, who are on the back of an impressive out-of-nowhere victory against the table-toppers Mumbai Indians. For the Royals, it was the duo of Ben Stokes and Sanju Samson, who put on a 152-run partnership to take them home from a dire position at 44/2, when their skipper Steve Smith exited the scene. While the hope is still bright, Royals still have a lot of issues that they would have to quibble with, including their death-over bowling which came under the pump against Hardik Pandya the other night. Alongside that, their top-order, barring the innings from Ben Stokes, hasn’t quite lived up to its potential, which they would have to be wary about. So in all likelihood, expect a cracker of a contest between the two for, of course, a place in the play-offs.
Kings XI Punjab - Chris Gayle
While KL Rahul might be their king-pin in the batting order, the return of Chris Gayle in the Red and Silver has completely changed the results, with them on a 5-match winning streak since his introduction. In the last three encounters, the right-handed Rahul has got starts for the franchise but has failed to continue his run-scoring prowess, with just scores of 28, 27 and 15. On the other hand, there is Chris Gayle, the Universe Boss, who has put on consistent scores for the men in form, with 51, 20, 29, 24 and 53 in this year’s competition. Gayle would be key to their chances against Royals’ pacy bowling unit.
Rajasthan Royals - Jos Buttler
Jos Buttler has gone from Jos the Boss to Jos in the middle-order, in what was an unexpected move from the franchise to slot in the southpaw Ben Stokes at the top of the order. While the results have been mixed, one thing that cannot be questioned at any cost is the right-hander’s importance in the outfit, with him having scored 271 runs in the competition thus far. While he didn’t get to bat against Mumbai and was dismissed for just nine runs in his previous appearance, the Englishman would be livid with himself and his form. But the unbeaten 70 against Chennai Super Kings is one of the reasons that he will be explosive against Punjab.
Kings XI Punjab - Murugan Ashwin
You’d always see a bowler in a match and say oh what a bowler, he can turn it all the ways, that is Murugan Ashwin in a quick sentence. He’s that kind of the bowler who if you have in your team, could win matches. For KL Rahul luckily, whenever, the leg-spinner has been part of the playing XI barring one game, they have come up on the winning side. Against SRH, he was integral to their bowling plans, when he came on to dismiss the dangerous English opener, Jonny Bairstow and nine wickets this season is just a testament to his prowess.
Rajasthan Royals - Jofra Archer
There’s Jofra Archer, and then there is the rest of the Royals bowling outfit, who have put on a sub-par show. They have tried out several pacers - by several, I mean Tom Curran, Andrew Tye, Kartik Tyagi, Jaydev Unadkat and Ankit Rajpoot - but none have been half effective as the English pacer, who has just blown away opposition for fun in the powerplay. The right-arm pacer has picked up 17 wickets this season, at an average of 18.82 and an economy rate of 6.71. So no more reasons but that for Archer to come away as the key bowler for Royals against KXIP’s threatening top-order.
KXIP - KL Rahul (c & wk), Mandeep Singh, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Glenn Maxwell, Deepak Hooda, Chris Jordan, Murugan Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh
RR -Robin Uthappa, Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson (wk), Jos Buttler, Steven Smith (c), Riyan Parag, Rahul Tewatia, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Ankit Rajpoot, Kartik Tyagi
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
When to Watch: Oct 30, 7.30 PM IST
Where to Watch: Star Sports Network and Hotstar (in India)