The Rajasthan Royals (RR) will look to continue their impressive winning streak when they take on the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in game 12 of IPL 2020 at the Dubai International Stadium on Wednesday.
RR goes into the contest having recorded the highest-ever chase in IPL history against Kings XI Punjab.
KKR too had an extremely efficient performance against Sunrisers Hyderabad after going down to the Mumbai Indians in their first encounter in rather insipid fashion. KKR’s bowlers never allowed SRH to fully get going, restricting them to only 142. Their batsmen then came to the party and ensured there were no hiccups for the chasing side.
In the head-to-head, KKR and RR have an even record with 10 wins each. On current form though, Rajasthan have the upper hand. As KKR look to upset the in-form RR, we look at three player battles that could decide what has the potential to be a close contest.
#1. Shubman Gill vs Jofra Archer
KKR opener Shubman Gill is one of the most promising upcoming batsmen in the Indian arena. His talent was on display during the 2018 U-19 World Cup, which India won under the captaincy of Prithvi Shaw. Gill was India’s highest run-scorer in the tournament with 372 runs in six games at an average of 124.
The gifted youngster demonstrated his batting ability in the victory over SRH as well with a fine 70 not out. It was a mature knock that ensured KKR sailed through what could have been a tricky chase.
The challenge for Gill against Jofra Archer will be a completely different one. The RR bowler can bowl real quick, and this has been on display in his short but eventful international career so far. Archer also possesses a very good bouncer with which he has troubled many opponents.
The fiery pacer was not in his element against the KXIP batsmen, who took him on and ended up on top. The fast bowler will be keen to make amends in the game against KKR. Gill, on the other hand, will go into the game with the awareness that Archer can be attacked.
#2. Sanju Samson vs Pat Cummins
What a mouth-watering battle this promises to be. Sanju Samson has been absolutely sensational for Rajasthan in their first two wins of the season. He smashed the Chennai Super Kings bowlers all over the park en route to his 32-ball 74, a knock featuring nine sixes.
Samson then played a massive role in RR's win against Kings XI Punjab as well, hammering seven sixes in his 85 from 42. Samson has struck the ball with amazing ease in the tournament so far and is making a strong case for his inclusion in the Indian team.
Pace bowling hasn’t troubled Samson at all in this IPL so far. But, Pat Cummins will have to find a way to put Samson under pressure. After a poor show against the Mumbai Indians, Cummins came back very well against SRH, bowling a pacy spell.
Cummins' tight bowling was one of the key factors behind Sunrisers’ struggling, as he conceded only 19 in his four overs. For KKR to do well against RR, they will have to get the wicket of the in-form Samson early. Being a highly experienced bowler, KKR will really on Cummins to get it done against RR.
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#3. Andre Russell vs Shreyas Gopal
KKR’s striker-in-chief Andre Russell hasn’t really had much to do in IPL 2020 thus far. The 32-year-old all-rounder from West Indies was knocked over cheaply by Jasprit Bumrah against the Mumbai Indians and was not needed to bat versus Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Russell has contributed with the ball, picking a wicket in each of the two games. However, Russell has made an impact in the IPL over the years as a monstrous hitter of the ball.
Fans won't forget the 510 runs he amassed last year at a strike rate of 204.81. KKR must not repeat the mistake they made last year and must ensure that Russell gets enough opportunities to make a difference.
Batting in the middle and late overs, Russell is likely to face off with Shreyas Gopal. The leg-spinner was one of the finds for RR last season, claiming an impressive 20 wickets in 14 matches, including a hat-trick against the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Gopal has also bamboozled top-quality batsmen like Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in the past, though, he hasn’t quite fired in IPL 2020 so far. He will be looking to make a strong impact against KKR and getting the better of a dangerous Russell wouldn’t be a bad way to start.Published 30 Sep 2020, 15:29 IST