Big picture: High-scoring contest likely
Wednesday’s game will also be the first time the IPL moves to north-east India. In 2020, the Royals, who have a long-standing partnership with Assam Cricket Association, were supposed to play in Guwahati, but Covid-19 ruined those plans.
Team news: No Livingstone, but Rabada’s in
Toss and Impact Player strategy
Possible bat-first XI: 1 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 2 Jos Buttler, 3 Sanju Samson (capt, wk), 4 Devdutt Padikkal, 5 Shimron Hetmyer, 6 Riyan Parag, 7 Jason Holder, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Trent Boult, 10 KM Asif, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal.
Royals subbed out Jaiswal for Impact Player Navdeep Saini during their defence against Sunrisers. Royals could repeat that or bring in a different pacer – Sandeep Sharma or Kuldeep Sen.
Possible bowl-first XI: 1 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 2 Jos Buttler, 3 Sanju Samson (capt, wk), 4 Shimron Hetmyer, 5 Riyan Parag, 6 Jason Holder, 7 R Ashwin, 8 Trent Boult, 9 KM Asif, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Sandeep Sharma/M Ashwin.
Padikkal could come in as an Impact Player at No. 4 during the chase if Royals bowl first. If Murugan Ashwin gets a game, then he’ll stay on as a lower-order hitter with a fast bowler being subbed out.
Possible bat-first XI: 1 Prabhsimran Singh, 2 Shikhar Dhawan (capt), 3 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 4 Jitesh Sharma (wk), 5 Sikandar Raza, 6 Sam Curran, 7 M Shahrukh Khan, 8 Harpreet Brar, 9 Rahul Chahar, 10 Arshdeep Singh, 11 Kagiso Rabada
Hard-hitting bowling allrounder Rishi Dhawan could be the Impact Player as a lower-order batter. He could replace Rajapaksa and contribute with the ball during the second innings.
Possible bowl-first XI: 1 Prabhsimran Singh (wk), 2 Shikhar Dhawan (capt), 3 Jitesh Sharma (wk), 4 Sikandar Raza, 5 Sam Curran, 6 M Shahrukh Khan, 7 Harpreet Brar, 8 Rishi Dhawan, 9 Rahul Chahar, 10 Arshdeep Singh, 11 Kagiso Rabada.
If Kings are bowling first, they could name only three overseas players in their XI and bring in Rajapaksa as the Impact Player for Arshdeep during the chase.
Stats that matter
Pitch and conditions
Both fast bowlers and spinners could struggle in Guwahati, which is usually a batting-friendly surface with medium-sized boundaries. Humid conditions are expected with a small chance of rain in the evening.
*The preview was updated after news of Raj Bawa’s injury came in.
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx
News Source: https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/indian-premier-league-2023-1345038/rajasthan-royals-vs-punjab-kings-8th-match-1359482/match-preview