There is a possibility of four teams finishing the league stage of IPL 2023 with 14 points with the one with a superior run-rate getting through to the next round. For that scenario to unfold, Royal Challengers Bangalore will have to lose one of their two remaining games, Mumbai Indians lose their final match and Kolkata Knight Riders to win their last encounter. But only one among Punjab Kings and Rajasthan Royals can be part of this possible finish as the two teams get set to battle it out in Dharamsala to keep their slim hopes of qualification alive.
Although the Royals suffered a drubbing against Royal Challengers, their NRR is still in the positive and a decent victory against the Kings could give them a real chance should the 14-point scenario pan out. Meanwhile, the Kings have a rather tough chance with their NRR dropping to -0.308 after their loss to Delhi Capitals and they need a really big win, and some big losses for the aforementioned teams, in order to stay afloat.
The Kings, let down by the pace department and some tactical errors, ended up conceding 213 against the Capitals – with the bowling in the powerplay and the death not up to the mark. They need to pull up the socks and figure out a method quickly against a Rajasthan side that boasts of some really good hitters, who had a good hit out during the nets as they cleared the fence with ease regularly.
They also need to put up a collective effort with the bat and not depend on individual brilliance. While Prabhsimran’s ton in Delhi did turn out in a winning cause, a stunning 48-ball 94 from Liam Livingstone in their previous game went in vain. Dhawan’s lack of contributions in the last two matches has also been a cause for concern and the skipper will be hoping to make amends and leadfrom the front.
The Royals, who were at the top of the table at one point in the competition, are now staring at an early exit after managing just two victories in their last eight matches. A high-scoring game, which they lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad, was sandwiched between two disappointing batting performances as they were skittled out for 118 against Gujarat Titans while they folded for 59 against RCB, registering the third lowest total in the IPL. RR, who will be eager to put up a solid batting performance, have the ideal venue to do so.
where: Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, Dharamsala
What to expect: As many as 24 maximums were struck in the game between PBKS and DC, with the short boundaries and a track with bounce and pace making it ideal for the batters. But there was some swing on offer early on in both innings and the bowlers will need to capitalise on that as they might end up suffering later. Another high-scoring game is on the cards.
The Kings, having played the match a day before, didn’t turn up for practice on Friday. They might, meanwhile, contemplate a couple of changes for the game. Atharva Taide, who struggled despite getting a half-century and was eventually retired out as a tactical move, along with Rabada, could make way for an overseas batting option along with an Indian pacer. Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Rishi Dhawan might be well-suited to fill those roles.
Tactics & match-ups: Arshdeep Singh has dismissed Yashasvi Jaiswal twice in 10 deliveries and has conceded only 10 runs, making him a good fit with the new ball, especially if swing is on offer. PBKS could also look at giving Nathan Ellis an over or two early on, with the pacer having picked up the wicket of Jos Buttler two times in eight deliveries in T20 cricket. Curran will be a good option against Sanju Samson, with the England left-armer having dismissed the RR captain twice in 15 deliveries.
Probable XII: Shikhar Dhawan (c), Prabhsimran Singh, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Liam Livingstone, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Sam Curran, Shahrukh Khan, Harpreet Brar, Rahul Chahar, Nathan Ellis, Rishi Dhawan, Arshdeep Singh.
Trent Boult, who was replaced by Adam Zampa in the last game, should be back in the side and might enjoy the early swing in Dharamsala. Both Devdutt Padkkal and Riyan Parag have been ineffective in this IPL, barring a fifty for the former against RCB, and it remains to be seen who among the two gets the nod for this game.
Tactics & match-ups: R Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal have dismissed Shikhar Dhawan three times apiece while Sandeep has dismissed the PBKS skipper twice. But both Chahal and Sandeep have been slightly expensive against the Punjab opener, making for an interesting contest.
Probable XII: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson(c & wk), Joe Root, Devdutt Padikkal/Riyan Parag, Dhruv Jurel, Shimron Hetmyer, Ravichandran Ashwin, Trent Boult, Sandeep Sharma, KM Asif, Yuzvendra Chahal.
Did you know?
- Sandeep Sharma has played six T20s in Dharamsala and has picked up 10 wickets at an average of 14.20, with a strike rate of 14.40 and an economy of 5.91.
- Chahal has bagged 29 wickets in 18 games against the Kings while Ashwin has picked up 20 off 20 matches against them. Ashwin has an economy of 7.23 against the side while Chahal’s is slightly higher at 8.12.
- Liam Livingstone, who has struck 450 runs at a strike rate of 206.42 against right-arm fast/seam, has the best strike rate against this bowling type (Min. 50 runs) in the IPL.
What they said:
“I feel we have good swing bowlers. When you bowl in such conditions you try to bowl in the right areas, bowl good lengths and try to swing the ball till it is swinging. And then after that you need to bowl your variations. yesterday we saw the game and it is always easier to plan your bowling seeing other games. We saw yesterday when people were trying to bowl yorkers more, it was going out of the ground. They were not executing their yorkers because of dew. We will sit today and try to make better plans” – Sandeep Sharma, on the learnings from the PBKS-DC game.