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IPL 2019: RR vs KXIP - 3 things to look forward to

ANALYST
Feature
2.06K   //    25 Mar 2019, 09:25 IST

Gayle and Rahul will be a treat to watch for Punjab fans.
Gayle and Rahul will be a treat to watch for Punjab fans.

The first two days of this year's IPL has seen veterans like Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh turn back the clock and deliver the goods. Harbhajan Singh's incisive spell started the collapse for RCB, whereas Yuvraj Singh repaid the faith MI bestowed on him with a vintage 50 laced with attractive boundaries.

But the day belonged to the belligerence of two individuals - Andre Russell and Rishabh Pant. Both of them made batting look so easy, and both their knocks helped their teams get off to a winning start.

The action now shifts to the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur as RR takes on KXIP. The ground in Jaipur is known to be a fortress for RR overs the years. RR will look to carry forward the confidence from their last season's performance. KXIP, on the other hand, would hope that their bowlers can be more consistent.

Both teams would want to get off to a winning start to their campaign. Here's looking at 3 factors of interest in this match:

#1 Chris "Universe Boss" Gayle opening the innings for KXIP

Chris 'Úniverse Boss' Gayle
Chris 'Úniverse Boss' Gayle

Chris Gayle has been in imperious form of late for the Windies. He announced that he will retire from ODI cricket after the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 and made a statement as he consistently demolished the England bowlers.

He would be coming into this IPL full of confidence and self-belief. Clearly, age is just a number for the 'Universe Boss' as at 39, he still can send shivers down the spines of opposition bowlers. Such is the command he has over the proceedings.

He had an ordinary IPL compared to his usual standards last year but one can be assured that he would want to carry on from his recent exploits and put on a show for all the fans watching. Also, the prospect of watching KL Rahul and Chris Gayle batting together certainly will keep everyone hooked and interested.

#2 Steven Smith returns to the IPL for RR

Steve Smith
Steve Smith
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Australia's former captain Steven Smith will also make his return to the IPL playing for the Rajasthan Royals. The sad and painful image of him breaking down in the press conference post the 'Sandpaper scandal' that shook the world of cricket is still fresh in everyone's memory.

Like his teammate David Warner, Smith has participated in many T20 leagues across the globe in the past year. That has kept him physically and mentally ready for the IPL and what is in store for him post that.

Everyone was looking forward to seeing how David Warner would cope under the pressure of an IPL game against the quality of KKR's bowlers. But he came out in flying colors, as he went about scoring in his merry way putting all doubts and apprehensions to rest.

RR and the general cricket fraternity would hope that Steven Smith puts what happened at Cape Town behind him and goes out there at Jaipur and show to the world what he's capable of. Watching Steven Smith bat alongside Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes will be an added thrill!

#3 Jos Buttler in his new position as an opener for RR

Jos Buttler
Jos Buttler

The main reason for Rajasthan Royals to pip favored teams like KXIP and MI to make it to the playoffs was the performance of England's wicket-keeper/ batsman Jos Buttler. At the beginning of the season, Jos Buttler batted down the order and that didn't yield the desired results.

But as soon as he was promoted to the opening slot, there was a change in RR's fortunes. With the full quota of twenty overs available in his kitty, Jos Buttler unleashed his brand of stylish, attacking batting which is a treat to watch.

One can expect the same strategy when RR take on KXIP tonight. Allow Jos Buttler to attack from ball one and let the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and Steven Smith steady the innings if required. But certainly, everyone would be interested to see how Jos Buttler goes as he was in imperious form in the recently concluded tour of Windies.

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