IPL's inaugural champions Rajasthan Royals (RR) open their IPL 2019 campaign against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) on Monday at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. Buoyed by the comeback of Steve Smith, Rajasthan Royals captained by Ajinkya Rahane will be up against Ravichandran Ashwin-led Kings XI Punjab who finished seventh last season. Rajasthan Royals, who made a comeback to the IPL following a two-year suspension, made it to the IPL 2018 playoffs courtesy Jos Buttler. The England wicketkeeper-batsman was in prolific form last season as he accumulated 548 runs from 13 matches at an average of 54.80 with a strike-rate of 155.24, ending up as the sixth highest run-getter.
Captain Rahane made 370 runs from 14 matches at an average of 28.46. Jaydev Unadkat was once again bought by the Royals this season for Rs 8.4 crore. There will be added pressure on the Saurashtra fast bowler to deliver this season.
On the other hand, the 2014 runners-up Kings XI Punjab made a big splash in the auction by buying Varun Chakravarthy, an unknown cricketer from Tamil Nadu, for Rs 8.4 crore.
If KXIP are to perform well this season much will depend on KL Rahul and the 39-year old Chris Gayle. Mayank Agarwal, riding on his prolific form in domestic cricket will also have to play a crucial role if Punjab are to qualify for the playoffs.
The two teams have played each other 17 times. RR have won 10 times, while KXIP have come up trumps six times. One match ended without producing a result.