The Chennai Super Kings’ victory over the Kolkata Knight Riders on Thursday has blown the race for top four positions wide open. Now, Match 50 of IPL 2020 between the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) and the Rajasthan Royals (RR) is that much more important, with the winner only making their case for a top-four finish stronger.
The Royals seem to have struck form just in time, however, as they registered an incredible comeback victory against the Mumbai Indians on Sunday. Having been set a target of 196, the Ben Stokes opening experiment finally started to work when Stokes hit an unbeaten 60-ball 107 to lead the Steve Smith-led team to an 8-wicket win in the 19th over of the innings.
The Punjab outfit, on the other hand, come into this game on the back of the best run of form of all teams in the tournament. The Mohali-based franchise have now won five on the trot, and will look to make that six in a bid to bring themselves to within a victory of qualification, after a disastrous start to the tournament.
Just like the Royals, KXIP too won their last game by eight wickets in the 19th over of the chase. While Mandeep Singh deservedly took home the Man of the Match with an emotional half-century following his father’s demise, it was Chris Gayle’s 29-ball 51 that swung the game in the Kings’ favour.
Given the stakes in place, this Punjab v Rajasthan fixture could go down to the wire, and we could be in for an exciting clash between two teams that have been impressive at different points in the tournament so far.
IPL 2020: KXIP v RR Match Prediction
The last match between these two teams was a final over thriller at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. A match that is now etched in IPL history as the highest run-chase in the tournament ever, the clash will also be remembered for coining the phrase “doing a Tewatia”.
Still needing 63 to win, RR lost then in-form Sanju Samson at the start of the 17th over. A Rahul Tewatia show at a diametrically smaller stadium brought the Royals to within two runs of victory before he was dismissed at the end of the penultimate over. RR would emerge victorious halfway through the final over.
Skipper KL Rahul will be keen to avoid a similar situation when the two teams go to battle later in the day. The situation is a tad bit different, of course. While that match was the start of a losing run, they come into this game as the most in-form team at IPL 2020 at the moment.
Mandeep Singh has proved to be a good enough alternative to opener Mayank Agarwal, with his half-century helping KXIP to victory against KKR. With Chris Gayle also firing at the back end of the tournament, it does look like the Punjab franchise need not depend only on the likes of Rahul, Agarwal and Nicholas Pooran for the runs.
On the bowling side of things, Mohammed Shami, with 20 wickets, has been KXIP’s strike bowler by a big margin. But he has found able support in the form of wrist-spinners Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin, who have 23 scalps between them. Add the recent success of bowlers like Arshdeep Singh and Chris Jordan, and KXIP’s bowling attack look more like a match-winning unit than they have in the tournament.
As for the Royals, the most encouraging sign going into this game will be the return to form of Ben Stokes. Having opened the innings since joining the squad midway through the tournament, he finally fired with a match-winning 60-ball 107 to take RR to victory against the Mumbai Indians.
Added to that, Sanju Samson’s half-century in the same game would have brought back hopes of the Kerala wicketkeeper-batsman operating at the same level that he did at the start of the season.
Jofra Archer has been the most important cog in the Royals’ bowling wheel having picked up 17 wickets in his 12 games. While the likes of Tewatia, Shreyas Gopal and Karthik Tyagi have also picked up a few wickets for the team, RR will continue to depend on Archer to pick up wickets at the right moments to power them to a victory against the Kings.
However, given KXIP’s overall team balance and form going into tonight’s game, it becomes difficult to bet against KL Rahul’s men.
Prediction: KXIP to win today’s match.
Click here to find today's IPL match score.Published 30 Oct 2020, 12:41 IST