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IPL 2021: Perennial underachievers RR and PBKS face off for 4th spot

IPL 2021: Perennial underachievers RR and PBKS face off for 4th spot

By K Aditya
Dubai, Sept 20 (UNI) Punjab Kings and Rajasthan Royals will hope for a change in fortune as both sides square off in the Match 32 of IPL 2021 at Dubai International Stadium on Tuesday. Combined, both the side have just one trophy -- won by RR in the inaugural edition of the IPL in 2008 -- to show off in the last 14 years with play-offs or knockout spots an anomaly as both they have mostly dwell in the bottom half of the table.
Despite the hit or miss display by the two underperformers, the match will still be of importance with the place in the top four at stake.
Royals' never-ending search for consistency took them to an ever-inconsistent Sanju Samson as captain.
However, Samson has been impressive with his individual performances since turning the leader; scoring 277 runs in seven innings at a strike-rate of 145.78.
RR’s form thought remains as inconsistent as it has been ever since the title-winning inaugural season of the tournament in 2008. With three wins and four losses, the Royals are currently fifth in the table.
While Jofra Archer’s absence in the season had already weakened the bowling attack, Royals received further setbacks ahead of the resumption when their English duo in match-winner Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler (team's second-highest scorer with 254 runs) also pulled out of the season.
The franchise did make the best effort in replacing the outgoing stars in world no.1 T20I spinner Tabraiz Shamsi (South Africa) hard-hitting openers Liam Livingstone (England) and Evin Lewis (West Indies). The opener duo are also the obvious choices as partners for the game. However, the presence of quality among the overseas players means it will be a headache for Samson to pick his four foreigners with the likes of Chris Morris, David Miller and Mustafizzur Rahman are also vying for a spot.
The pressure of scoring in the middle-order still has to be shouldered by someone like Riyan Parag, Shivam Dube in order to set the tone for the heavy-hitters Rahul Tewatia, Morris and others down the order.
A sea-saw battle for a spot among foreigners means somebody like Mustafizzur (eight wickets in seven games) might not find a place in the XI, increase the load of taking wickets in the powerplays will fall on the likes of Jaydev Unadkat and Chetan Shakariya.
Punjab Kings, on the other hand, have some serious concerns with their bowlers as barring Mohammed Shami (8 wickets in as many games) and Arshdeep Singh (7 wickets) none of their bowlers have been up to the mark.
Fellow pacer Chris Jordan has been expensive and explains why Nathan Ellis (29 wickets in 32 Big Bash games) was roped in to replace outgoing Riley Meredith. PBKS also roped in Adil Rashid and is expected to come in handy on two-paced pitches of the UAE. Another wrist-spinner Ravi Bishnoi too will look to bounce back after an unsatisfactory first phase that saw him just half of PBKS matches.
The issues are not grave in the PBKS batting as KL Rahul (331 runs in eight games), Mayank Agarwal (260 in seven) and a 40-plus Chris Gayle (178 in 8) being the consistent performers at the top of the batting order. The team will expect some consistency from their batsmen from there on though as the likes of Nicholas Pooran (28 in seven), Shahrukh Khan (107 in eight) and Deepak Hooda (116 in 8) have been pedestrian with the bat.
UNI KND SHK1754

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