Rajasthan and Kings XI got off to winning starts in this year's Indian Premier League—one streak is sure to end as the two sides clash in Sharjah.
Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium
Date: Saturday, 19 April
Start time: 3:30 p.m. BST/6:30 p.m. local time
Live on: Sony Six, Star Sports HD, Star Sports 1 (India), ITV4 (United Kingdom), SuperSport (South Africa), OSN (UAE) SkyTV (New Zealand), Network Ten (Australia), Channel 9 (Bangladesh), Sportsnet and Omni (Canada), Sports Max (West Indies), Geo Super (Pakistan), Starhub (Singapore).
Weather: The BBC predicts peak temperatures of 30°C in Sharjah on Sunday, but the evening start time means the weather should be relatively mild for the desert in late April, which is nothing the players won't be used to dealing with.
Neither the Royals nor the Kings XI were at the top of many lists as potential IPL winners, but both made an impressive start to their campaigns in the United Arab Emirates.
The Royals' bowling came to the fore as they dismantled Sunrisers Hyderabad, while Ajinkya Rahane in particular impressed with the willow.
Rajasthan Royals (@rajasthanroyals) April 19, 2014
For the Kings XI, the story of the opening game was Glenn Maxwell, whose 43-ball 95 helped them chase down 206 to beat the Chennai Super Kings.
What's clear is that both sides—each skippered by Australians in the form of Shane Watson and George Bailey—have different strengths and approaches.
The Royals have historically gone for value players rather than star names, while Punjab have one of the tournament's most exciting talents in Maxwell, as well as overseas players of the calibre of Mitchell Johnson and Thisara Perera.
Team meeting! Our boys have worked hard today. Now, bring on the game tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/OQ1KfOgeFT— Kings XI Punjab (@lionsdenkxip) April 19, 2014
Rajasthan have won eight of the 11 meetings between the sides, per the official IPL website, but given the amount the sides have changed in the wake of this year's auction, the history books count for precious little.
Predicting the clash is tricky, but on the strength of the opening games alone, it's hard to look beyond the Kings XI—any side that can undo the damage of conceding 205-4 is never out of a contest.
Shane Watson managed just three runs and didn't bowl in Rajasthan's opener, but his IPL pedigree is unquestioned. The player of the tournament in the first edition of the IPL in 2008, Watson is the big-name in his team and needs to prove it. His bowling would surely be an asset if he uses himself.
Kings XI Punjab
Mitchell Johnson's figures of 4-0-47-0 in the opening game were the second worst of his T20 career (per ESPNCricinfo). Having missed the World Twenty20 with a toe injury, this was an inauspicious start. He has also spoken about retiring from some limited-overs cricket to prolong his Test career, per Cricbuzz. He needs a performance quickly to show he's not only at the tournament for the payday.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Amit Mishra, Ankit Sharma, AK Bains, R Bhatia, STR Binny, UBT Chand, KK Cooper, BCJ Cutting, JP Faulkner, BJ Hodge, DJ Hooda, Iqbal Abdulla, DS Kulkarni, VS Malik, KK Nair, AM Nayar, AM Rahane,KW Richardson, SV Samson, SPD Smith, TG Southee, PV Tambe, R Tewatia, SR Watson, DH Yagnik
Kings XI Punjab
Anureet Singh, P Awana, GJ Bailey, L Balaji, R Dhawan, Gurkeerat Singh, BE Hendricks, MG Johnson,Karanveer Singh, M Kartik, Mandeep Singh, SE Marsh, GJ Maxwell, DA Miller, AR Patel, NLTC Perera,CA Pujara, WP Saha, Sandeep Sharma (1), V Sehwag, Shivam Sharma, SN Thakur, M Vohra