After an enthralling first three games to kick start the 2019 IPL, both the Royals and Kings XI will finally get their chance to showcase what they’ve got to offer this season later tonight in Jaipur. Rajasthan made a solid return to the competition last season finishing fourth, meanwhile Kings XI Punjab couldn’t build any momentum whatsoever which saw them finish near the bottom of the standings yet again.
Once again led by Ajinkya Rahane, the Rajasthan Royals will be seeking plenty of success in 2019 with the addition of former Australian captain Steve Smith who is sure to add plenty of class in the top-middle order along with a host of proven performers in the league. The Royals have more than enough firepower in their batting order to challenge just about any side in the comp, consistency however proves to be a reasonably sized question mark. England’s Jos Buttler was electric last year for the Royals, there’s no denying it as the aggressive right-hander tore opposition attacks to shreds averaging just under 55 for the tournament. In many ways, Buttler was the anchor in the Rajasthan side last season despite his outrageous scoring ability and erratic approach. 24-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson was also more than handy in 2018 scoring 441 runs from his 15 games, accounting for some underperforming suspects in the form of skipper Ajinkya Rahane and in particular Ben Stokes who struggled throughout the tournament. Hopefully for Rajasthan’s sake, the return of Steve Smith and former RCB batsman Manan Vohra can have a positive output in the side and take them one step further in 2019.
Some Caribbean flavour was added to the Royals bowling cartel in IPL 2018, and Jofra Archer didn’t disappoint as he led the way with 15 wickets despite playing just 10 matches. Spinners Shreyas Gopal and Krishnappa Gowtham combined for 22 wickets (11 each) in the slow bowling department, while medium-pacer Jaydev Unadkat also offered his experience despite a couple of quiet outings with the ball. They’ll be put to the test against the likes of Chris Gayle, KL Rahul and Karun Nair later tonight, but at the same time it could be seen as an opportunity to shine. Former Kings XI speedster Varun Aaron may come up against his old side if he is selected, and don’t forget about IPL journeyman Dhawal Kulkarni who enters his 12th season in the franchise. Don’t be surprised if 22-year-old West Indian seamer Oshane Thomas makes an early appearance this season, however with Jofra Archer above him in the pecking order he may have to wait his turn.
Kings XI Punjab
Coming off a bitterly-disappointing 2018 campaign, Punjab can’t afford another lacklustre tournament with the amount of talent they have in their squad. Star-opening batsman KL Rahul was spectacular at the top of the order for Kings XI last year as he amassed 659 runs, the third-most overall. As usual, the “universal boss” Chris Gayle provided a spark at the top alongside Rahul with some influential knocks including an unbeaten century against Hyderabad. Chris Gayle wasn’t bought for consistency though, and despite averaging over 40 he has his obvious flaws which Punjab was well aware of. That’s where the likes of Karun Nair, Aaron Finch, Mayank Agarwal and Yuvraj Singh were expected to make up the numbers with some cameo-knocks, but it just didn’t happen which resulted in Kings XI crashing & burning. It’s worth mentioning that one of their longest-serving players David Miller played just three games despite his obvious X factor with the bat, it was a strange old campaign indeed…
It’s unlikely that Miller will be kept out of the side this time around, so expect to see the South African power-hitter crunching boundaries in 2019! It’s uncertain as to what sort of impact he’ll have third time around in the IPL, but you can only assume that these sluggish-surfaces work in favour of Andrew Tye’s variation bowling. The Australian seamer picked up 12 wickets from just six outings in 2017, and last season he bettered that taking out the purple cap award with 24 wickets from 14 matches. Tye picked up 3 four-wicket hauls for Kings XI in 2018 despite his teams obvious struggles, can he maintain those lofty standards in 2019? One thing’s for sure, skipper Ravi Ashwin needs to have a much bigger impact with the ball if Punjab are to succeed in this year’s IPL. Afghani mystery-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman is back for another season, he was a good addition to the team last year with 14 wickets and should continue to bamboozle opponents with his wrong ‘un. This team consists of quality players all the way down the list, it’s mind-baffling to think they’ll finish as low as seventh again which shouldn’t be the case, but then again it is Punjab.
Top 4 fantasy picks – Rajasthan Royals
- Jos Buttler
- Jofra Archer
- Steve Smith
- Ben Stokes
Wildcard pick – Shreyas Gopal
Top 4 fantasy picks – Kings XI Punjab
- KL Rahul
- Mujeeb Ur Rahman
- Chris Gayle
- Ravi Ashwin
Wildcard pick – Karun Nair
Rajasthan Royals (possible) – 1. Ajinkya Rahane © 2. Jos Buttler (wk) 3. Steve Smith 4. Sanju Samson 5. Ben Stokes 6. Rahul Tripathi/Manan Vohra/Stuart Binny 7. Krishnappa Gowtham 8. Jofra Archer 9. Shreyas Gopal 10. Jaydev Unadkat 11. Varun Aaron/Dhawal Kulkarni.
Kings XI Punjab (possible) – 1. Chris Gayle 2. KL Rahul 3. Mayank Agarwal 4. Karun Nair 5. Nicholas Pooran (wk) 6. Mandeep Singh 7. Varun Chakravarthy/Sarfaraz Khan 8. Ravi Ashwin © 9. Andrew Tye 10. Mujeeb Ur Rahman 11. Mohammed Shami/Ankit Rajpoot.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.