Rajasthan Royals begin their IPL 2012 campaign with a home fixture against Kings XI Punjab. RR, playing their first season without Shane Warne, will look to repeat their title-winning performance in the inaugural IPL in 2008. Kings XI Punjab, meanwhile, will be hoping to progress past the league round and into the playoffs; the Mohali franchise made it to the semi-final in the inaugural season (where they were beaten by Chennai Super Kings), but have since failed to finish the season in the top four teams.
Thursday, April 6, 2011, 08:00 p.m.
Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
Watch out for Brad Hodge, Stuart Binny and Shaun Tait in the Rajasthan Royals line-up. 37-year-old Hodge is among the most experienced Twenty20 cricketers in the world, and though he hasn’t set the IPL on fire yet, this could be his season. Hodge no longer plays the other formats of the game and is somewhat of a T20 specialist. Karnataka all-rounder Stuart Binny was in outstanding form – with both bat and ball – in the domestic first-class season and will be looking to carry that form into the IPL too. Among the bowlers, look out for the express pace of Shaun Tait (who holds the record for bowling the fastest delivery in international cricket), and for the spin of Johan Botha. And with Rahul Dravid at the helm, expect some strategic aces too.
In the Kings XI Punjab jersey, watch out for Paul Valthaty who impressed in IPL 2011 (he scored a century and finished among the top two run-getters for the team). Adam Gilchrist is always a key player, as much for his captaincy as for his batting; the 40-year-old dashing opener hasn’t played any competitive cricket since IPL 2011, but like any true champion, Gilly belies his age and gives it his all every game. Also, look out for 37-year-old all-rounder Azhar Mahmood who will be making his IPL debut.
Rajasthan Royals have a slight edge over Kings XI Punjab in meetings between these two teams with four wins from seven matches. RR have remained unbeaten in two home fixtures against Kings XI Punjab and will want to keep that record intact. Trivia
• Kings XI Punjab have in their line-up the most-capped Twenty20 player in the world – David Hussey. Hussey Jr. has so far appeared in 171 T20 matches.
• This match will feature the top two run-getters in the T20 format; KXIP’s David Hussey tops the list with 4270 runs, while RR’s Brad Hodge comes in a close second with 4226 runs.
• Among the 19 bowlers in the world to have taken 100 or more wickets in Twenty20 cricket, Rajasthan Royals’ Johan Botha has the best economy rate – 6.04. What next?
Rajasthan Royals will stay put at home after this fixture and will host the Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday, April 7. Kings XI Punjab, meanwhile, will travel west to the brand new Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in Pune to take on Pune Warriors India on April 8.