Revamped Punjab to face tight tussle with Royals

The first full week of the Vivo Indian Premier League starts with the final two teams getting their campaigns underway as the Rajasthan Royals meet the newly named Punjab Kings in Mumbai. Despite both of the sides having a poor time of it in the UAE in October, they will be keen to right the wrongs of last year and get off to a good start.

The money man

If you were to ask the Rajasthan Royals fans, who is the player they least want to be missing for potentially the entirety of the IPL, it would be Jofra Archer. The express paceman suffered a freak injury, cleaning at home, which has led him to need surgery, following the India white ball series.

The Royals are also missing former Australian captain Steve Smith, who was picked up by the Delhi Capitals in the auction. Smith was sometimes overlooked when it came to quick runs, when he followed the likes of Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes.

The men in blue and pink can this year boast this year having not just the most expensive player at this year’s auction, but the most expensive player of all time with Chris Morris joining from the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Morris was very much a bit-part player for RCB, so will be hoping to prove that he is worth the astronomical price tag, and get a good run in the side.

New season, new name

The Punjab Kings fans will be desperate for them not to replicate the poor start that they got off to in last year’s IPL, and take the two points from the Royals on Monday night. They boast a very well measured side, led expertly by KL Rahul. He formed a strong partnership with Mayank Aagarwal at the top of the order last year, a partnership so strong that the Universe Boss Chris Gayle had to bat at three, when he eventually got in to the first XI.

It was an opening trio that worked well, with Rahul and Agarwal scoring quickly, but being less gung-ho than the 41-year-old Gayle. Dawid Malan very much fits the bill of controlled batting, with the former ICC World Number 1 T20 batsman joining up with fellow Englishman Chris Jordan.

Match Tip

Barring Chris Gayle, the Punjab Kings tend to score quickly and along the ground, and with Malan, Agarwal and Rahul, I’m sure they will do this same this time out.

That’s why I’m backing the Punjab Kings to hit more fours than the Rajasthan Royals at 2.00 with Betway.

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