KKR’s Abhishek Nayar, Dinesh Karthik and coach Brendon McCullum talk during a practice session. Courtesy: Twitter
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
A brimming-with-confidence Rajasthan Royals (RR) who are firmly perched at the top of the IPL table will look to extend their winning streak with a victory over a resurgent Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in their third IPL match to be played at the Dubai International Stadium on Wednesday.
RR currently have four points from two games and have overtaken Delhi who were beaten by Hyderabad on Tuesday. After an emphatic victory over Chennai Super Kings in their opener, Rajasthan continued their rich vein of form with another superb show against Kings XI Punjab, who themselves are in fine fettle.
Captain Steve Smith men’s main strength lies in their explosive batting line-up. Both their matches have been high-scoring affairs.
In their first tie they posted a mammoth total of 216/7 before bundling out CSK for 200/6.
Skipper Smith is leading from the front. In the first match he smashed a 47-ball 69, following it up with another quickfire 50 in their second match, to lay the foundation for a successful mammoth chase.
He along with Sanju Samson, wreaked havoc in both the games. In fact, Samson, who is in the form of his life, was the highest scorer for RR in both the matches.
His scores in the last two innings have been 74 and 89 against CSK and Punjab respectively at an average of 81.5 and with a strike rate of over 200 to boot.
With Jos Buttler joining them on the top of the order in place of Yashaswi Jaiswal, their batting has been further bolstered.
Rajasthan will be riding high on confidence after successfully completing their record chase of 223 against Kings XI Punjab in Sharjah.
While Smith began the chase, Samson steered it and Rahul Tewatia finished it as RR easily overtook the improbable target of 223.
After a slow start, Tewatia’s shift into top gear, which stole the show for the Royals, will now send a shiver down the spine of any bowling attack in the world. He smacked five sixes off a Sheldon Cottrell over to race from 13 off 19 to 53 off 31 deliveries. His last 38 runs came off just 12 balls with seven of them being hit for sixes.
RR will hope the trio deliver the same magic once again and keep their momentum going. With Buttler in the line-up it makes an absolutely killer combination.
However, their bowling is a bit of concern. With all their bowlers going for more than 10 per over, Smith may have to ponder new options in the bowling.
Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat and Tom Curran were quite expensive against both Punjab and CSK with Dhoni’s men managing to reach the magical mark of 200, albeit falling short in the end. In their 40 overs so far, the Rajasthan bowling attack have taken just eight wickets while conceding a total of 443 runs.
Considering the fact that both the games were played on a dead Sharjah Stadium pitch -- notorious for being the graveyard of bowlers -- Rajasthan can take the liberty of defending their unimpressive attack.
On the other hand, KKR came back strongly against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) to register their first win, which must have boosted their confidence after a tame performance in the first match.
But Kolkata had to sweat it out while chasing a mediocre target of 143 against an unfancied SRH bowling. Their batting has been a big problem for them with captain Dinesh Karthik, Sunil Narine and Nitish Rana all not looking in good nick.
Narine and Karthik were dismissed for naught against SRH. Only Shubham Gill waged a lone battle to take them over the line.
However, their bowling attack looks good with Pat Cummins, Narine, Kuldeep Yadav and mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy.
The match promises to be an exciting contest between the two teams, one boasting one of the best batting line-ups in the tournament while the other having world class bowlers in their ranks.
UAE’s emerging cricketer Ansh Tandon is delighted with the prospect of training with the Indian Premier League (IPL) side Punjab Kings. The left-handed batsman is all set to take a step closer towards realising his dream of playing at the lucrative
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) coach Stephen Fleming is relishing the excitement of playing the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 season opener against the defending champions on Saturday.
Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will look to take early advantage with a win in their first match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Dubai International
As the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) contingent joins their Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises in the UAE, a split loyalty may be on the rise when the cricket spectacle gets under way from Sept.19.
The victory of Morocco over Spain triggered a wild celebration across the Arab world. The victory is being seen as a pan-Arab win. It was not only Doha, where the fans went in the state of euphoria but they flocked the streets from Cairo to Jeddah and Dubai to Damascus.
Fancied multiple Grand Slam champion and Dubai resident Kristina Mladenovic is eyeing a resurgence of her singles career heading into the upcoming tennis season.
Top seed Diana Shnaider overcame a gutsy Timea Babos, while Slovakia’s Rebecca Sramkova eased her way past Israel’s Lina Glushko for their rightful spots in the quarter-finals at the 25th Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge being held at the Habtoor Grand Resort.