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IPL 2019, Rajasthan vs Punjab: 6 players to watch out for

File Photo of KL Rahul (L) Chris Gayle and Steve Smith (C). Photograph:( PTI )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 25, 2019, 04.44 PM (IST)

Rajasthan will host Punjab at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur as both the teams open their 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign.  

If seen the previous year's record, the Royals have had an upper hand against the Kings, having won 10 of the 17 matches played between the two teams.

This year too Ajinkya Rahane’s team will look to continue their dominance against the Ravichandran Ashwin-led side. Punjab along with Delhi and Bangalore are the three teams who have never won IPL title. 

So, before the clash begins, let's take a look at the six players to watch out for.

1) Steve Smith - Returning to the IPL fold after a gap of one year, all eyes will be on Steve Smith. He last played for Rajasthan in 2015 amassing 293 runs in 14 games. He represented Rising Pune Supergiants for a couple of seasons when the Royals were banned. It might be a for redemption journey for Smith as he eyes a spot in Australia's World Cup squad.

2) KL Rahul - KL Rahul was the top-scorer for Punjab last season with 659 runs from 14 matches at an impressive average of 54.91. However, his form and consistency to score fell down when playing for India. the tournament will be an opportunity for Rahul to book his place in the World Cup. 

3) Chris Gayle - The 'Universe boss' is one of the most dangerous batsmen in the shortest format of the game. Gayle heads into the tournament on the back of impressive performances for West Indies in the recently-concluded limited-overs series against England. He scored 368 runs in 11 games for Punjab last season including a century and three half-centuries, making him a must batsman to watch today.  

4) Jos Buttler - Buttler was the main reason why Rajasthan managed to reach the playoffs last season as he played some breath-taking knocks. 
He amassed 548 runs in 13 games at a brilliant average of 54.80 and a strike rate of 155.24 including five fifties. 

5) Jofra Archer - With 15 wickets in 10 matches, Archer was one of the best pacers in the league last season and will be aiming to replicate his heroics for Rajasthan this season. One of the most exciting all-rounders in the competition, Archer can also be handy with the bat and turn the game around for Rajasthan at crucial junctures. 

6) Ben Stokes: Stokes is well known for his long shots and some remarkable innings in the 20-over format. However, the English cricketer failed to create any magic last season and was a big flop. Despite his poor show with bat, the franchise decided to retain him. What is now required is Stokes need to come up with a good plan to shed his poor form. 

Story highlights

If seen the previous year's record, the Royals have had an upper hand against the Kings, having won 10 of the 17 matches played between the two teams.