The ghosts of the past seem to have hit the Kings XI Punjab side as they face an uphill task of adding life to their faltering campaign when they host the Rajasthan Royals at the Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali.
The Ravi Ashwin-led side started on a bright note, claiming wins in three of their first four matches before losses at the hands of the Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians sandwiched a win at home against the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
However, the Kings XI were dealt a major blow when they came up short against a struggling Royal Challengers Bangalore side at home in their previous game and will be desperately looking to end the streak of losses against the Royals.
The Royals, on the other hand, come into the game with some much-needed momentum after registering a four-wicket win against the Mumbai Indians, only their second win in seven games.
With the home team eager to bounce back to winning ways and continue their good show at home this season, here are a few changes we could expect to see in the line-up.
Chris Gayle found his marauding form against the Royal Challengers Bangalore and thumped his way to a 64-ball 99, laying the foundation for the Kings XI to put up a big score on the board. With form on his side, Gayle's presence at the crease will be a daunting proposition for the Royals.
KL Rahul has looked in ominous touch in the last few games and with two fifties plus a mesmerizing century from the previous four games, Rahul's contribution at the top will be vital for the Kings XI. Add to that a major boost on being selected into the World Cup squad, Rahul could certainly unleash his best against RR.
Mayank Agarwal has taken the opportunities given to him with both hands and has consistently made impressive starts that have fetched him 199 runs from seven matches. However, Agarwal will be eager to convert his starts which could see a big score in the offing.
Sarfaraz Khan's presence in the middle order has added a lot of excitement to the Kings XI's middle order and with the youngster capable of pulling out some exquisite strokes, the Rajasthan bowlers will need to get their lengths right.
David Miller is expected to return at the expense of Nicholas Pooran and can be expected to yet again assume the role of a finisher, a role that has seen Miller flourish in over the years.
Mandeep Singh has not enjoyed a lot of time in the middle but has managed to slot into the role given to him, which is to add some valuable runs in the slog overs. Striking at 155.74 this season, the right-hander is certain to add value during the death overs stages.
Sam Curran's lone moment this season is the hat-trick against the Delhi Capitals apart from which the left-arm pacer has not had the best of games. With 7 wickets in six games, Curran will be hoping to cause some issues for the RR batsmen with his pace and troubling lengths.
Ravichandran Ashwin has bowled his heart out in this edition of the IPL and has 9 scalps from eight games and will yet again hold the key against a good set of batsmen at the Rajasthan Royals with his mixed bag of tricks.
Hardus Viljoen is expected to return from an illness that kept him out of the game against RCB and will be banked on to hit the deck hard to trouble the batsmen with his pace and bounce.
Mohammed Shami has been Punjab's standout bowler this season with 10 wickets from eight games and will yet again hold the aces for his team when the Royals come visiting. While amongst the wickets, Shami has been a tad bit expensive and the pacer will be eager to rectify that and put the Royals under some pressure early on.
Murugan Ashwin's inclusion in the team has proved to be a bright one, with the wrist spinner applying the breaks on the scoring in the middle overs. While M Ashwin has just two wickets from four games, his economy rate of 6.50 will certainly boost his confidence.
Probable Playing XI: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul (wk), Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Hardus Viljoen, Mohammad Shami, Murugan Ashwin.
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