Rajasthan Royals and Punjab Kings will be the last two teams to open their Indian Premier League 2020 campaigns as they face off at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Monday (April 12). Both teams missed out on the playoffs last season and will be keen to not repeat that this time around.
The Royals have the upper hand in this fixture, having won 12 out of 21 matches against the Kings in the IPL. The 2008 IPL champions have a slight edge in recent contests between the two teams as well, winning three out of the last five.
Overall: Matches – 21 | RR – 12 Wins | PBKS – 9 Wins
Last 5 Matches: RR – 3 Wins | PBKS – 2 Wins
While you could go for the above team, you also have the option of choosing your own team from cricket.com’s Fantasy Research Centre. Based on algorithms, we have come up with one team.
This will be the second game played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai in IPL 2021. In the first match, 378 runs were scored at a run-rate of 9.8 and average of 37.8 which indicates batting friendly conditions, as has usually been the case at this venue.
In T20 cricket since 2019, from a runs per wicket (30.3) and balls per wicket (21.4) viewpoint, the Wankhede Stadium has been the best for batsmen, if you consider the six venues at which IPL 2021 will be played. It is also one of two stadiums – the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru being the other – where the run-rate during the aforementioned period has been over 8. While the run-rate in Bengaluru is at 9, the corresponding number for Mumbai is 8.5.
Since 2019, 21 out of the 34 T20 matches held at the Wankhede Stadium have seen the team batting second come out on top. Dew is usually a factor for teams defending a total here.
While spinners (7.9) have a better economy rate than pacers (8.8) in T20 cricket at the Wankhede Stadium since 2019, it is the latter who take wickets at a better rate, which is more important as far as fantasy cricket is concerned. While pacers have a strike rate of 21.2, it is 24.6 for the spinners here.
During the same period, more overs have been bowled (62.9%) and more wickets have been taken (66.2%) by pace too. In Saturday’s match between Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals, eight out of nine wickets that fell to bowlers were taken by pacers. Taking all these stats into consideration, we have picked four fast bowlers and one spinner in our team.
One issue that arises is that most of the top batsmen in this game are listed as wicketkeepers, which left us little space for other players in our team.
There could be a few interesting match-ups too.
Jos Buttler is one of RR’s key batsmen, and in this match, he could come up against Mohammed Shami, a bowler against whom he has scored 25 runs from 21 balls in T20 cricket so far. Shami has, in fact, dismissed Buttler twice already in this format which might make this a match-up that PBKS look to use.
KL Rahul and Ben Stokes are two of the best players in this tournament and they could come up against each other in this match. Rahul has struggled against Stokes in T20 cricket, managing a batting strike rate of only 108.1 and has been dismissed thrice in just six innings by the England all-rounder.
KL Rahul was the top run-scorer in IPL 2020 and it’s hard to look past him for captaincy in this game. Since joining the team from Punjab in 2018, Rahul has scored 1922 runs at an average of 54.9 and strike rate of 140.1. In fact, during this period, no batsman has scored more than him in the IPL. Last season, he made 50+ in six out of the 14 innings he batted in, surpassing 25 in 10 of those knocks, which speaks volumes about his consistency.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Rahul could score 22-33 runs in this match.
Ben Stokes joined the 2020 IPL late but showed his class during his time at the tournament, especially as a batsman. With the bat, he scored 285 runs at an average of 40.7 and strike rate of 142.5. While he bowled only 15 overs in eight matches last season, that number should increase this time around. He was also in good form during the limited-overs leg of England’s recent tour of India.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Stokes could score 16-25 runs and could take 0-1 wickets in this match.
Jhye Richardson is yet to play in the IPL, but after being signed for INR 14 cr, there will be a lot of eyes on him this season. He was sensational in the 2020/21 Big Bash League, ending the tournament as its highest wicket-taker – 29 wickets at a strike rate of 12.7. He also has the ability to contribute with the bat at times which is an added bonus.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Richardson could take 1-2 wickets in this match
Jos Buttler has been one of the best limited-overs batsmen in world cricket in recent years. In IPL 2020, he scored 328 runs at an average of 32.8 and strike rate of 144.5. England captain Eoin Morgan recently indicated that Buttler will be opening the batting for the Royals alongside Stokes. If that’s the case, then Buttler is a strong contender for captaincy and vice-captaincy.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Buttler could score 18-27 runs in this match.
(Image Courtesy – BCCI)