Kings XI Punjab host the lowly Rajasthan Royals at the PCA Stadium in Mohali in Tuesday’s encounter of the IPL. While the Kings have attained 8 points out of as many games, Rajasthan languish at 7th place having accumulated just 4 points in 7 games.

They would look to get back among the contenders for the playoffs, and a victory over the Kings XI will make it two wins on the trot, providing them some much-needed momentum as the business end of the season approaches. Punjab meanwhile would like to complete a double over their opponents, following on the victory against the Royals in their opening match, when a Chris Gayle blitzkrieg ensured a total that Rajasthan could not chase down in spite of Englishman Jos Buttler’s best efforts.

Both teams bank on their top-heavy batting order. KL Rahul has been in blistering form for Punjab and grabbed enough eyeballs to get himself on the flight to England for the World Cup. His partnership at the top of the order with the “Universe Boss” Gayle will be key for Punjab. Backed up by power-hitting talents like Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, and David Miller, the Punjab batsmen will prove to be a test for the Royals bowling lineup. Shreyas Gopal has been the key wicket-taker, while the pace battery would like to keep things disciplined against the marauding Punjab batsmen. Rajasthan themselves will be banking on the efforts of skipper Ajinkya Rahane, in-form Jos Buttler and the ever-improving Steve Smith. Punjab’s bowling will depend on Mohammed Shami and captain Ravi Ashwin, with all-rounder Sam Curran capable of inflicting danger in the later overs.

Here are a few key player battles to look out for in this match.

Jos Buttler vs  Ravichandran Ashwin

This is the key battle that will excite a lot of people, especially after what transpired in their last encounter. Buttler was on song against the Kings XI, scoring 63 off 49 deliveries. It seemed imperative that the Royals would get over the line riding on Buttler’s performance before he was most unfortunately Mankaded by Ashwin. It was a dismissal that caused a huge hue and cry, with a plethora of opinions regarding the sportsmanship, or lack thereof, of the incident. This is a mouth-watering rivalry that would continue in this match. Both have had good seasons thus far as well. While Buttler has 288 runs in 7 games to his name, Ashwin has taken 9 wickets in his 8 matches. Which statistic will increase in this player battle remains to be seen.

Also Read: The Fantasy Guide for this match

KL Rahul vs Shreyas Gopal

KL Rahul has been having the season of his life thus far. He has scored 335 runs in 8 innings with an incredible average of 67 and an impressive strike rate of 131, with a century and three fifties to boot. He has led the charge from the top and will be a key wicket for the RR bowlers. The battle of Rahul against Shreyas Gopal would be one to watch out for. Gopal is also having a breakthrough season, snaring 8 wickets in 7 games. He has also been very stingy in the middle overs with an economy of just 6.41. Rahul will hope to cause damage to that statistic, while Gopal will look to get the danger man. This is surely a player battle to look out for.

Chris Gayle vs Jofra Archer

After a slight slump in form, Chris Gayle is back to his best, marauding the bowling attack in recent matches as only he can. With 322 runs in 7 matches, Gayle is currently third in running for the Orange Cap, averaging over 53 and striking at over 157. He would look to carry on his hitting prowess, which saw him score an unbeaten 99 in the last game against RCB. Though the bowler doesn’t matter when Gayle gets going, Rajasthan would bank on Jofra Archer to dismiss the Jamaican early. Archer has taken 7 wickets in as many games, but his economy of 7.22 would be crucial in stemming the flow of runs from Gayle’s bat and dismissing him in the process. This player battle might go a long way in deciding the game.

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