IPL 2018: Rajasthan Royals (RR) today's probable playing 11 against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)
After an initial stutter in the first game after their comeback from suspension, against the Sunrisers Hyderabad where they lost meekly, the Rajasthan Royals, under the captaincy of Ajinkya Rahane, have notched up two back-to-back wins, and are crawling their way up the points table.
Here's what their lineup could look like in their fourth game of the season, against the Kolkata Knight Riders:
Ajinkya Rahane: Captain of the new-look franchise, Rahane couldn't get the team going in the powerplay against the Sunrisers in the opening game. He fell for a 13-ball 13, putting pressure on the IPL debutant, D'Arcy Short. In the field also, Rahane wasn't up to the mark, dropping a dolly of Shikhar Dhawan at first slip.
Ever since, he has racked up important starts, against the Delhi Daredevils and the Royal Challengers Bangalore, and will be looking to steady the Royals' campaign.
D'Arcy Short: Coming to the IPL with the reputation of a hugely successful Big Bash League season, Short can turn on the heat in the opening overs with his dynamic batting. In his first two games, however, he fell short of the crease early and was dismissed in the first few overs itself.
Sanju Samson: Consistent performances over the last few years have made him one of the most sought-after domestic wicketkeepers in the IPL. In the first innings of this season, he was the reason why the Royals managed to cross even the 100-run mark: around his 42-ball 49, the entire batting collapsed.
Against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, he was in royal touch, almost amassing his second IPL century, falling short on an unbeaten 92. His big-hitting ability, when the need demands, makes him a vital cog in the Royals' lineup.
Ben Stokes: Carrying with him the reputation of being the most expensive IPL player two seasons in a row, as well as the trail of a controversy-filled last few months, Stokes couldn't get going in the first game, scoring a drab 8-ball 5, and going for as many as 21 runs in his two overs. 27 is the highest he has been able to collect in the first three games.
However, his reputation as one of the most destructive all-rounders in the game remains intact.
Rahul Tripathi: Accustomed to batting higher up the order, where he created a reputation with the Rising Pune Supergiant last year, Tripathi showed a few shades of his class in the side's opening game, including a couple of delectable cover drives, but couldn't go past 17.
He's played a couple of unbeaten knocks ever since but hasn't been able to express himself like he did as an opener last year.
Jos Buttler: The Englishman, part of the small group of players from his country taking part this time, hasn't been able to explode the way he has done in the past - although his quick cameos down the order promise to keep the Royals in good stead when the need arises.
Krishnappa Gowtham: The all-rounder, having proved his worth in the domestic circuit, was lapped up by the Royals this year, but hasn't been a major contributor until now - with two runs and one wicket, he needs more opportunities to make his presence felt.
Shreyas Gopal: The talented Karnataka all-rounder, just like K Gowtham, doesn't seem to have been utilised to his full potential: while he did not get to bowl in the rain-truncated game against Delhi, he picked up two super-crucial wickets, that of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, in the last game against RCB, and would be running high on confidence.
Dhawal Kulkarni: Having played for multiple franchises over the years, Kulkarni is an IPL veteran and has been bowling his nagging medium pacers to good effect even as, with every season, his India hopes have gone down.
The 29-year-old new ball bowler has, however, picked up no wickets in the first three games, and will be feeling the pressure from the franchise to perform.
Ben Laughlin: The journeyman has been part of the T20 circuit for a long time, having made his debut in the format for Australia in 2009. While the 35-year-old hasn't played regularly for the national side since he has been successful in the Australian domestic circuit.
In the IPL this year, however, he has failed to shine and has conceded as many as 86 runs in three games.
Jaydev Unadkat: The most expensive Indian in the IPL auction this year, Unadkat is enjoying a second innings of sorts, one that includes a Team India return. Although his bowling has improved, and he has inculcated a lot of variations, he is still expensive in the death overs and would be hoping to get more wickets upfront for the Royals.
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