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Rajasthan and Punjab seek back-to-back victories

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Rajasthan and Punjab will look to make it two wins in two matches this Indian T20 League season when the teams meet on Sunday at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in Dubai.

Rajasthan beat Chennai by 16 runs in their previous encounter while Punjab are coming off of a 49-run thrashing of Kolkata. Both teams are coming into this contest with big wins and will be aiming to keep the momentum going. Here’s everything you need to know about the match:

Samson at No. 3 is meant to be

Make no mistake, Sanju Samson is a colossal talent and has shown glimpses of it over the years for RAJ. However, consistency has been a huge concern for the talented batsman but a deeper dive into his career suggests a pattern that paints a clear picture of what his best role in the batting line-up is. Here are his batting numbers by position:

Position Innings 50s 100s High score Runs Average S/R
Opening 24 3 0 74 559 23.29 135.02
No. 3 35 8 2 102* 1218 39.29 136.39
No. 4 21 0 0 47* 372 19.58 120
No. 5 2 0 0 15 28 14 133.33
No. 6 6 0 0 27* 80 20 102.56
No. 7 1 0 0 21 21 21 210
No. 8 1 0 0 5* 5 - 250

While he’s batted at seemingly every number, his stats at the #3 position are clearly much better than in any other positions in the line-up. He played at #3 against CHE and delivered a match-winning performance for his team. As long as he continues to bat in that position, it is safe to say Samson will deliver.

KL Rahul, the most prolific batsman in the Indian T20 League

Since joining PJB in 2018, KL Rahul has simply been the best batsman in the Indian T20 League. With 1405 runs in his last 30 outings with the bat, Rahul has scored more runs than any other batsman in the Indian T20 League over the past two campaigns, over 150 runs clear than next best Rishabh Pant. Here are the top runscorers in Indian T20 League since 2018:

Rank Player Mat Inn NO Runs HS Ave SR 100 50
1 Lokesh Rahul 30 30 6 1405 132* 58.54 149.15 2 12
2 Rishabh Pant 32 32 5 1240 128* 45.93 165.78 1 8
3 Shikhar Dhawan 34 34 4 1053 97* 35.1 135.7 0 9
4 Virat Kohli 30 30 3 1009 100 37.37 138.79 1 6
5 Shane Watson 35 35 1 1004 117* 29.53 140.81 2 5

He is already the fastest Indian to reach the 2000-run mark in the Indian T20 League and has displayed no weakness whatsoever against spin or pace, striking at over 145 against both. He next faces Rajasthan, against whom he’s averaging 117.5 since 2018. Expect another big performance from the PJB skipper. 

Players to watch out for

Rajasthan – Jofra Archer

Englishman Jofra Archer was terrific for RAJ in their opening fixture with the ball as well as the bat. In the first innings, Archer took Lungi Ngidi to the cleaners in the first innings, smashing four sixes in the final over to take RAJ past 200 on the scoreboard. With the ball, the 25-year-old finished with figures of 1-26 in his quota of four. A stellar all-round performance that he would be aiming to emulate against PJB.

Punjab – Mohammad Shami

By far the best bowler this season, pacer Mohammad Shami has had a renaissance as a T20 bowler since the start of last season and he’s carried that form into this campaign. So far in two matches, Shami has bowled seven overs and given away just 29 runs and picked up four wickets. A stellar output from an outstanding pacer who has formed an incredible tandem with West Indies' Sheldon Cottrell. 

Stats to watch out for

2: Glenn Maxwell is just two wickets away from completing 100 scalps in T20s. 

4.14: PJB speedster Mohammad Shami has been in terrific form and is currently bowling at a scarcely believable economy rate of 4.14.

20: Karun Nair is just 20 runs away from completing 1500 runs in the Indian T20 League.

29: Rajasthan skipper Steve Smith averages just 29 against PJB, the lowest he’s managed against any team.

55: KL Rahul has been terrific against Rajasthan in the Indian T20 League, averaging 55 against them. The opener is averaging 153 this season.

Writer’s pick

Both teams dismantled their opponents in their previous outing and are coming into this contest with a lot of confidence. While both teams' batsmen are in stellar touch, the Punjab bowling unit is a tad bit better and has been in incredible form so far. Hence, we would go with Punjab in this contest.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Sajjad Hussain

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