IPL 2019: Can Rajasthan Royals stop the KKR-Russell juggernaut?
Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders will face each other on Sunday in the 21st match of IPL 2019, and it promises to be an enthralling encounter. While KKR, who won against RCB in their previous match will be full of confidence, Rajasthan Royals will take the ground with the intention of registering their second win of the season.
Kolkata would wish to repeat what they did in Bangalore against the Royals too, defeating them in their own den. However, Rajasthan are a little more balanced than RCB, and would be desperate to climb above their current second-last position in the IPL points table.
With the thunderous win over RCB, KKR have proven that they have the capability to turn the match in their favor from anywhere. They have an accomplished top-order batsman in Chris Lynn and possibly the world's best finisher in Andre Russell. The responsibility in the middle-order will be on Nitish Rana, Robin Uthappa and captain Dinesh Karthik.
If given a chance, the young Shubman Gill can also stamp his authority in the shorter format.
As far as Kolkata's bowling is concerned, they have the power to stop even the strongest batting order. They have some world-class spinners in Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav, who can stop the run flow and also take wickets in the middle overs. In the fast bowling department, the team has the options of Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, and Andre Russell.
That last name is probably the one that is sending shivers down the spines of Rajasthan's players. Russell has been simply unstoppable this season, and it would take some cleverly formulated plans to get rid of him.
Tough challenge for Rajasthan
Rajasthan would take comfort from that the fact that they will be playing at their home ground, but they are likely to get a tough challenge from KKR. The batting lineup of the Royals is strong enough to deal with the visitors' bowlers, but it remains to be seen whether they have the confidence to do so.
In RR's previous match, their bowlers did not allow Bangalore to score big. Shreyas Gopal broke the back of RCB's lineup by taking the wickets of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. He and fellow spinner Krishnappa Gowtham could prove to be a headache even for KKR.
At the same time, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer would be expected to play a key role in this match. Captain Ajinkya Rahane will be highly dependent on these two as no other fast bowler has been able to do anything special so far.
Apart from captain Rahane and Jos Buttler in the batting, the team will also expect Steve Smith to put in a significant contribution. After failing in the initial matches, Smith scored 38 runs against Bangalore and helped the team get close to the target.
All in all, KKR would start as favorites in this match, but RR definitely have the team to trouble the visitors.