While Kings XI pulled off a sensational six-wicket win over the formidable Chennai Super Kings in a high-scoring match in Abu Dhabi on Friday, the Royals notched up a comfortable four-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad later in the day. (Agencies)
And come Sunday, both the teams would be aiming to carry on their winning momentum ahead in the tournament. However, on paper Kings XI will start as favourites against the Royals.
Kings XI's team composition underwent a substantial overhaul this year. Led by Australian George Bailey, the Punjab outfit pulled off quite a masterstroke by snapping up India Test discard Virender Sehwag. Even though he is no longer in his prime but on his day, the Delhi-dasher is an enthralling game-changer capable of mortifying opposition attacks.
In Cheteshwar Pujara, hard-hitting Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and Bailey, Kings XI boast of a formidable batting line-up, the effect of which was visible on Friday.
Chasing a mammoth 206-run target, Kings XI rode on a blazing 115-run stand between Miller and Maxwell to steal the scintillating win over Super Kings.
Maxwell hammered 95 off 43 balls while Miller made an unbeaten 54 off 37 to propel their team past Super Kings' imposing 205 for four with seven balls to spare.
Sehwag (19 off 10) and Pujara (13 off 10) started the chase brightly and come tomorrow, the Punjab side would be looking for an encore from its batting department.
However, bowling would be a cause of concern for Kings XI going into tomorrow's game. Almost all their bowlers went for runs against the Super Kings on Thursday.
But Bailey would be hoping for a much-improved show from the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Laxmipathy Balaji, Rishi Dhawan and Parvinder Awana.
The Royals, on the other hand, were clinical in their bowling performance against the Sunrisers.
Dhawal Kulkarni (2/23), Kane Richardson (2/25) and Rajat Bhatia (2/22) and Pravin Tambe (0/23) bowled economical spells to restrict the Sunrisers to 133 for six.
On the batting front, however, the Royals have some work to do as only two of their batsmen -- Ajinkya Rahane (59) and Stuart Binny (48 not out) managed double digit scores while chasing the modest score.
The Royals' batting department would be looking for inspiration from the legendary Rahul Dravid, who is donning the hat of a mentor this time around.
Under the able guidance of Dravid, coach Paddy Upton and skipper Watson, the team that is often considered as underdog, will be looking at springing up surprises once again, which in turn will help them to leave behind the spot-fixing ghosts of last season.
Kings XI Punjab: George Bailey (C), David Miller, Manan Vohra, Virender Sehwag, Mitchell Johnson, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shaun Marsh, Wriddhaman Saha, Thisara Perera, Glenn Maxwell, Rishi Dhawan, Anureet Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Akshar Patel, Beuran Hendricks, Karanveer Singh, Murali Kartik, Shivam Sharma, Shardul Thakur, L Balaji, Parvinder Awana, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Mandeep Singh.
Rajasthan Royals: Shane Watson (c), Ajinkya Rahane, James
Faulkner, Stuart Binny, Sanju Samson, Brad Hodge, Steven Smith, Abhishek Nayar, Ben Cutting, Kane Richardson, Tim Southee, Unmukt Chand, Ankush Bains, Vikramjeet Malik, Rahul Tewatia, Ankit Sharma, Amit Mishra, Deepak Hooda, Rajat Bhatia, Kevon Cooper, Iqbal Abdulla, Dhawal Kulkarni, Pravin Tambe, Karun Nair, Dishant Yagnik.
While Kings XI pulled off a sensational six-wicket win over the formidable Chennai Super Kings in a high-scoring match in Abu Dhabi on Friday, the Royals notched up a comfortable four-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad later in the day.