Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) will look to return to winning ways and begin their final push for a playoff spot when they take on bottom-placed Rajasthan Royals (RR) in an IPL 2018 match at the Holkar Cricket Stadium on Sunday night. Punjab are currently in fourth place with 10 points but a win will help them climb to third while a victory for Rajasthan will see them jump to fifth spot in the IPL Points Table. The match holds more significance for Rajasthan as a loss will make it near impossible for them to reach the playoffs. Punjab can afford a loss but skipper Ravichandran Ashwin will be hoping his team are geared up for the business end of the tournament, having done well at the start. (Play Fantasy Cricket & Win Lakhs everyday!)
Punjab's batting mostly relies on opener Chris Gayle, who has accumulated 302 runs from just five games, averaging 100.66.
Even in their last encounter against Mumbai Indians on Friday, when most of the Punjab batters failed make big contributions, the self-proclaimed 'Universe Boss' slammed a 40-ball 50, laced with six boundaries and couple of sixes.
In-form opener Lokesh Rahul, who faltered in the game against Mumbai, has also been in good form, amassing 292 runs from eight games.
The Punjab openers have been a major reason behind the team's success.
Karun Nair has also been impressive with 209 runs from seven innings but veteran Yuvraj Singh, Aaron Finch and Mayank Agarwal are yet to make their presence felt in the middle-order.
The trio's poor form could be a cause of concern for the team management.
In the bowling department, skipper Ravichandran Ashwin, along with medium-pacer Mohit Sharma add depth to the line-up.
Also, pacers Barinder Sran and Andrew Tye, and Afghan spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman shoulder the bulk of the responsibility.
While Australian Tye has 10 wickets from eight games with an economy of 7.90, pacer Ankit Rajpoot and Mujeeb Ur Rahman have seven and nine wickets each.
On the other hand, Rajasthan Royals have experienced a topsy-turvy campaign so far.
With the IPL 2018 entering its business end, skipper Rahane will expect his team to get their act together and aim for consistency.
In their previous match, Rajasthan fell short against Delhi Daredevils by just four runs in a rain-affected tie.
Rahane and Samson have been their best batsmen this season but the inconsistent run of Ben Stokes and Jos Butler has affected their performance this season.
Among the bowlers, young seamer Jofra Archer has done well to claim seven wickets from just three matches but this IPL's costliest Indian buy Jaydev Unadkat has been expensive and not at his best.
Rajasthan's main concern will be the form of their spinners -- Shreyas Gopal and K. Gowtham -- who have so far failed to hunt as a pair.
While Gopal has six wickets from seven games, Gowtham has bagged five wickets from eight matches.
Rajasthan can't afford another defeat from here as it would all but end their dream of a playoff berth.
Rajasthan Royals: Ajinkya Rahane (Captain), Ben Stokes, Stuart Binny, Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler (Wicket-keeper), Rahul Tripathi, D Arcy Short, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jofra Archer, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat, Ankit Sharma, Anureet Singh, Shreyas Gopal, Prashant Chopra, Sudhesan Midhun, Ben Laughlin, Mahipal Lomror, Aryaman Birla, Jatin Saxena, Dushmantha Chameera, Heinrich Klaasen, Ish Sodhi.
Kings XI Punjab: Ravichandran Ashwin (Captain), Axar Patel, Yuvraj Singh, Karun Nair, Lokesh Rahul (Wicket-keeper), Chris Gayle, David Miller, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Rajpoot, Manoj Tiwary, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Barinder Sran, Andrew Tye, Akshdeep Nath, Ben Dwarshuis, Pardeep Sahu, Mayank Dagar, Manzoor Dar.
(With IANS Inputs)