IPL 2018: A battle royale on cards for ending losing streak

Rajasthan Royals needs its bowlers to step up when it takes on Kings XI Punjab in Indore.

Like KXIP, RR, too, comes to this match with two successive defeats.   -  AP

Momentum is a strange thing. Everything would look fine when you have it; you would come back from the dead and win matches. When you lose it, things could go awfully wrong. Like Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) has discovered in its last couple of matches.

It lost both of them, to Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) away and then to Mumbai Indians at home, or rather the second home. That was after R. Ashwin’s men had posted four wins on the trot and raised hopes for their fans, of what would be their only second IPL final.

 

After the six-wicket defeat to MI, here, just a day ago, it would be itching to get back to its winning ways as it takes on Rajasthan Royals at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore on Sunday. To do that, it would have to bat better, bowl better and field better than it did on Friday.

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Ashwin had admitted that the fielding was an issue, after the defeat to Mumbai. “We gave away some five or 10 runs. We knew that fielding was going to be a problem for us after the auction, but we are trying to put our best efforts,” he said.

 

Candidness isn’t the only thing that has impressed in Ashwin’s maiden stint as an IPL captain. He has proved an astute leader. He believes that a good batting surface and a relatively small ground makes defending a tough task, here.

So, KXIP needs run from beyond the top-order, where openers Chris Gayle (302 runs at an average of 100.66 and a strike-rate of 154.08) and K.L. Rahul (292, 36.5, 164.97) have both been brilliant.

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Royals, too, has some stroke-makers in form. Sanju Samson, that explosive talent from Kerala, is its leading scorer with 282 runs (40.28, 145.36). And if somebody like Jos Buttler gets cracking – as he did against Delhi Daredevils in the last match, in which he raced to fifty in 18 balls – there could be quite a run feast.

Ajinkya Rahane’s men will look up to their bowlers like Jofra Archer, the pacer who has emerged as one of the uncapped stars of the season, to take it from the last position. Like KXIP, it, too, comes to this match with two successive defeats.

“Yes, we are in a tough situation, but that has made us more determined. I hope the pressure would bring the best out us,” said Samson.

The host is far better placed – fourth in the table — but a hat-trick of losses is something it would be keen to avoid.