The 9th fixture of the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League, between the Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals, is being staged at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. In his last appearance for KXIP, against Royal Challengers Bangalore, skipper KL Rahul scored an unbeaten 69-ball 132 that included 7 sixes. Despite Sharjah being a shorter ground, Rahul admitted that it’s important for the batsmen to settle first and then go for the big hits. While Rahul admitted that there’s a very small margin of error for the bowlers, they can also get a fair amount of chances as the batsmen will be urged to go for the maximum pretty often.
“We are still looking for the same process [despite a shorter ground], get a good start see how the wicket behaves and take it from there. It’s either been 140-150 or 200-plus here so it’s important for us batsman to not think ahead of ourselves, play one ball at a time. Like the set batsman tries to bat deep and hit as many sixes as possible later on,” KXIP skipper KL Rahul said at the toss.
“The lengths might change a little bit [for the bowlers in Sharjah]. But there’s so much pressure on the batsmen to hit sixes that the bowlers will get their fair opportunity. It’s a small ground, so the margin for error is very less for the bowlers.”
Rajasthan Royals, who won the toss and opted to field first against Punjab, played and won their first IPL 2020 match at the same venue.
“Yeah it was a little bit tacky in the first game, it got a little bit wet after and that’s the reason behind chasing. I’m assuming it will be the same tonight. We have a couple of changes- Jos Buttler comes in for Yashasvi Jaiswal, Miller’s out and Rajpoot comes in,” Smith said at the toss.
“Hope to spend more time in the middle tonight. Of course, [Jos Buttler’s addition is exciting] he is an unbelievable player and has been so for a number of years now. Good to see him back.”
Kings XI Punjab head coach Anil Kumble has claimed that the Sharjah cricket Ground hasn’t changed since his days as a cricketer and the batsmen will enjoy a full advantage on this venue.
“There are still some areas that we need to improve on. It was a very thorough, professional work in the last game. We are looking forward to ticking those boxes even in this one. The focus will be on that rather than what the opposition will do. The focus is more internal. Sharjah hasn’t changed over the years, from the time I have played. The batters are hitting it out of the park these days, the pitch remains the same,” Anil Kumble said.
“It’s a smaller ground compared to Dubai. In terms of skill, the length will be the key, The margin of error is very limited. We have discussed that. Focus on that and not get too worried about the size of the ground. As a bowler, the last thing you want is to go in thinking that the ground is small. It’s better to be positive.”