JAIPUR: The fear factor that pacer Jofra Archer adds to the Rajasthan Royals is enormous. But, how captain Steve Smith will go about rotating others around him, particularly the fast bowlers will be the key as the team gears up to face Kings XI Punjab in Sharjah on Sunday.
It would be interesting to see how the Aussie utilises profligate Jaydev Unadkat. Will he feature in the playing XI or will the choice be made between two other Indian pacers Varun Aaron and Ankit Rajpoot? Whatever his decision, the Royals’ resources, barring Archer in the pace department, look thin. Andt it is highly unlikely for the team to punt on rookie pacers Karthik Tyagi and Akash Singh.
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The problem will compound if their new recruit Tom Curran again fails to amend his game. In their opener against Chennai Super Kings, Curran and Unadkat leaked 54 and 44 runs respectively in their respective quota of four overs. And the prospect of facing Punjab’s skipper KL Rahul in his red hot form at the small Sharjah stadium must send the alarm bells ringing.
Royals and Unadkat share an intriguing relationship. Their alliance has earned the franchise more frustration than anything else in the last two years and the start of the third season indicates similar results. Despite having invested crores on the Saurashtra player, the dividends have been insignificant. His success in the domestic circuit and being a left-armer he is an interesting addition into the squad, but call it the burden of bucks or the pace of the IPL, Unadkat has failed to live upto the hype and this leaves the Royals in a spot of bother all over again.
Coming into the match, both the teams will be high on confidence with big victories in their previous games.
RR’s top-order will be boosted by the presence of Jos Buttler, who will be back in the squad after missing the first game due to quarantine rules. The English opener’s presence will further strengthen the team and given his recent success at the international stage while playing for England, fireworks are guaranteed. Smith who opened in his absence, is likely to drop himself to number 4 while star of the match against CSK, Sanju Samson will retain his position at one down.
Known for being a bowlers’ graveyard, it is KXIP’s pacers and tweakers who have impressed the most so far in the UAE. They have not only been economical, but have also succeeded in getting timely breakthroughs. Asserting themselves over one of India’s finest seamer Mohammed Shami and up-and-coming leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi along with Sheldon Cottrell will be a tough ask for the solid-looking Royals’ top-order.