Rajasthan Royals (RR) and Punjab Kings (PBKS) have been the perennial underachievers in the Indian Premier League (IPL) over the years. In the last two seasons, both couldn’t make the playoffs and would be desperate to make amends this time around.
The two teams will be looking to make a winning start when they lock horns on April 12 at the iconic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The Royals have their own set of problems and won’t be having the services of two of their premier fast bowlers, Mustafizur Rahman and Jofra Archer, at least in the beginning.
It also remains to be seen how Sanju Samson, their new skipper, steps up. As far as Punjab is concerned, even as their batting looks power-packed, their bowling unit needs to deliver on a batting paradise in Mumbai.
Here’s PBKS’s Predicted Playing XI for IPL 2021 Match 4:
Openers (Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul (C and WK))
Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul performed to expectations back in 2020. In fact, it was Rahul, who won the Orange Cap, though he had to face criticism for being overly circumspect, especially in the first six overs. In IPL 2020, Rahul smashed 670 runs with one ton and five fifties.
But if batting coach Wasim Jaffer’s words are to be believed, Rahul might take a more aggressive route in this edition. Agarwal, on the other hand, was the more attacking of the two as he played at a strike rate of 156.45.
Though he missed a few games due to injury, he made quite a bit of impact, scoring 424 runs with a top score of 106 against the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in Sharjah. Albeit Punjab’s middle-order is stronger this time, the team’s fate would depend a lot on how Rahul and Agarwal plays.
Middle-order (Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh)
Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran remain as the fulcrum of their middle order. Gayle, to the surprise of many, was benched for quite a few matches in the last season. But once he joined the eleven, there was no stopping him. He took his time early but caught up on his scoring rate with lusty hits.
Having played for the West Indies recently against Sri Lanka, the Jamaican veteran is in a pretty good rhythm. PBKS has to make a tough choice between him and England’s Dawid Malan. Pooran can clear the ropes at will as well.
He was impressive in the last IPL and he played some handy knocks for the Melbourne Stars in the 2020-21 Big Bash League. Sarfaraz Khan may also get a go, bearing in mind that Mumbai is where he has grown up playing cricket. There’s also a chance for Mandeep Singh to make the eleven.
Bowlers (Chris Jordan, Jhye Richardson, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Mohammed Shami)
Punjab’s bowling attack isn’t the most experienced as far as playing in the IPL is concerned. Mohammed Shami hasn’t played any form of cricket after he sustained a forearm injury during the Adelaide Test against Australia back in December 2020.
He’s most probably set to take the new ball and also bowl at the death. Ravi Bishnoi played a crucial role last time and didn’t flatter to deceive by any means. A lot will depend on him as well. Chris Jordan of England has a truckload of experience playing for his country and in various T20 leagues around the globe.
He, along with Shami, is likely to head the bowling attack in critical match situations. Arshdeep Singh can be an X-factor, being a left-arm seamer. It will also be interesting to see who among Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith get an opportunity.
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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