Rahane’s fight for pride and a few points

As Rajasthan Royals gears up for the home-leg against Kings XI Punjab, Ajinkya Rahane will be keen to spark positive vibes by leading from the front.

Ajinkya Rahane (right), who replaced Steve Smith as skipper of Rajasthan Royals, has failed to fire as a leader in IPL 2018.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

 

The intense performer that he is, Ajinkya Rahane must be hurting at Rajasthan Royals’ inability to execute plans in Indian Premier League 2018. Leading a side with proven match-winners in all-rounder Ben Stokes, strokeplayer Sanju Samson, hard-hitting Jos Buttler, the squad is searching for a bold player to pull RR over the line. Kings XI Punjab landed a blow in Indore, leaving the former searching for solutions in a format with not much room for strugglers.

At a time when Kane Williamson, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik are leading from the front, Rahane is finding it difficult to assert himself like before when he used to win matches with calculated hitting.

READ: Stoinis all praise for K.L. Rahul following win against RR

As Rahane’s squad prepares for the face-off at home against KXIP on Tuesday, the opener can spark positive vibes in the dugout by camping at the crease the way K.L. Rahul paced himself (54 balls for 84 not out) during the chase in the last game.

 

KXIP captain Ravichandran Ashwin, the only bowling all-rounder among IPL skippers this season, is more assertive and players respond to his orders with wickets and runs. There have been confident displays by spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman and pacer Ankit Rajpoot, Rahul (as opener); promoting Axar Patel to number four in the batting line-up and holding back attacking Karun Nair in the six-wicket victory in the last leg are signs of a skipper-in-charge, who is prepared to take risks.

ALSO READ: Satisfied with my knock against Rajasthan, says Rahul

RR’s surprise packets so far were Jofra Archer’s swinging yorkers on IPL debut and Krishnappa Gowtham’s free-spirited hitting. Rahane’s side can improve chances by breaking out of the predictable mould. Chris Gayle in the rival camp can render all calculations irrelevant, but strike bowlers in other teams have risen to the challenge.

There are no injury scares in either camps.

But dust-storms are expected to blow across northern states, including Rajasthan.