Aiming to stay in contention for the IPL 2020 playoffs, Rajasthan Royals take on Sunrisers Hyderabad in match number 40 at Dubai on Thursday. RR got the better of an under-prepared Chennai Super Kings by seven wickets in their previous encounter. Still, with eight points from 10 matches, they have plenty of work to do.
The task is even tougher for Sunrisers Hyderabad, and their chances of qualification for playoffs are rather slim. With only six points from nine matches, they are languishing in seventh place. In their previous encounter, SRH suffered a heartbreak as they were undone by Lockie Ferguson in the Super Over against Kolkata Knight Riders. Hyderabad will need to show great mental resolve to recover from the same.
In the head-to-head record between the two teams, both SRH and RR have won six games each out of 12. As they prepare for their latest face-off, we take a look at three player battles to keep an eye on.
1. Jos Buttler vs Rashid Khan
Jos Buttler has had an unpredictable run in IPL 2020. In nine matches, he has 262 runs to his credit at a strike rate of 143.95. Apart from the half-century against Mumbai Indians in a losing cause, he was the star performer in the triumph over Rajasthan Royals with an unbeaten 70 from 48 balls.
It was a typical Buttler knock that saw him flay the bowling to all parts of the ground. Rajasthan still have a small chance of making the play-offs. And, to utilise the opportunity, they will want Buttler to be at his very best. Having settled in nicely in the middle-order, he is likely to continue in the position.
Even as SRH have failed to make much of an impact in IPL 2020, Rashid Khan has carried the bowling, weakened by injuries, on his shoulders. Despite a disappointing start in the first couple of games, he has scalped 11 wickets in nine matches at a strike rate of under 20 and an excellent economy of 5.52.
Teams have preferred to play out Rashid and, as a result, the leggie only has not been up there among the top wicket-takers this season. If Buttler comes up against Rashid, he will definitely attack the latter. But, it won’t be an easy task to take on the wily slow bowler.
2. David Warner vs Jofra Archer
SRH skipper David Warner will be desperate to play a dominant innings in IPL 2020. Despite him having scored 331 runs in nine matches, we are yet to see the best of the swashbuckling Aussie batsman.
His strike rate of 124.43 clearly indicates that he hasn’t been able to open up. It has hurt SRH’s progress as the franchise has been dependent on him. Batting in the middle-order in the last game against KKR, Warner gave glimpses of his aggressive best with an unbeaten 47 from 33 balls. SRH will hope for more of the same from him.
Warner’s battle with RR pacer Jofra Archer could be a decisive one as it will be a tussle between two match-winners. Even as RR’s fortunes have tumbled, Archer has made his presence felt. He has claimed 13 wickets from 10 games at a strike rate of 18.30 and an economy of 6.75.
The World Cup-winning England bowler will go all out against Warner. If Archer can knock over Warner early, it will serve as a massive boost to RR’s fortunes, particularly if Kane Williamson is unfit for the game. Archer has been expensive at times though, and Warner should look to attack him to gain the upper hand.
3. Ben Stokes vs T. Natarajan
Rajasthan were desperately hoping for a change in fortunes with the entry of all-rounder Ben Stokes at IPL 2020. But, it hasn’t worked out that way, at least not so far. In four matches, England’s 2019 World Cup hero has only managed 80 runs at a disappointing strike rate of 112.67, despite being given the opportunity to open the innings.
Except for the 41 against Delhi Capitals, he has not been an assured presence at the crease. Stokes still has some time to make an impact, but he has to pull his socks up at the earliest.
SRH left-arm pacer T Natarajan has been among the rare, impressive performers for the franchise in the bowling department. He has 11 wickets to his name in nine matches at an excellent strike rate of 19.
Natarajan’s economy is slightly on the higher side at 8.46, but he has picked up crucial wickets in a number of games. Against CSK, he dismissed Shane Watson and MS Dhoni while in the tied encounter against KKR, he sent back Rahul Tripathi and Andre Russell. Natarajan should target Stokes’ wicket early in the game against RR.Published 22 Oct 2020, 18:47 IST