Languishing in the bottom half of the points table, the 7th-ranked Punjab side were once again plagued with the usual inconsistencies and as a result only managed to win five of their 10 outings so far. here.
Already in the commercial end of the tournament, Punjab badly needed a comprehensive win to resuscitate their wayward campaign, and the eight-wicket win over Titans came at just the right time. Led by the four-wicket burst of Kagiso Rabada and the elegant half-century of Shikhar Dhawan, victory over Gujarat with four overs to spare also pushed Punjab’s net run rate from -0.470 to -0.229.
Facing a bowling attack from Rajasthan in Saturday afternoon’s game, Punjab will be hoping for Dhawan to make an encore, besides expecting Liam Livingstone, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Jitesh Sharma to fire in unison to display or defend a big total.
The repeated failures of Englishman Jonny Bairstow and Mayank’s disappointing campaign have time and again dampened the spirits of the Red and Gold Brigade, and as such Rishi Dhawan and the lower order should shoot over above their weight as the situation requires.
On the bowling side, Punjab finally seem to have found a well-established combination this season. South African pace spearhead Rabada led the way with four wickets in the last two games, and India’s trio of Arshdeep Singh, Sandeep Sharma and Rishi Dhawan were also in the money. It will be interesting to see if Leggie Rahul Chahar is rested for a few draws to accommodate left arm spinner Harpreet Brar.
On the other hand, after back-to-back defeats, third-placed Rajasthan will have to look past their overreliance on Jos Buttler and expect Sanju Samson, Devdutt Padikkal and Shimron Hetymar to step in. Padikkal’s failure to go ballistic has somehow affected the Royals who have found themselves with below par totals of 144, 158 and 152 in their last three games.
Also Riyan Parag, with half a century in 10 innings so far, desperately needs some points and some scalps to justify his selection.
Rajasthan’s bowling attack has been decent with the Indian pair of Prasidh Krishna and Kuldeep Sen complimenting New Zealander Trent Boult well.
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