Flat Sharjah track and two in-form teams with cleanest strikers – the match between Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals had all the ingredients and promised of being a Super Sunday show.
Openers KL Rahul (69 off 54) and Mayank Agarwal (106 off 50) made the likes of fearsome Jofra Archer look listless as they rampaged their way towards the highest opening partnership of 185 between Johny Bairstow before centurion Mayank Agarwal but were stopped 2 runs short of the stand. The openers however achieved the record of highest opening partnership for Kings XI Punjab.
The opening stand of 183 runs between them is also the third highest opening stand in IPL, second highest for KXIP for any wicket and highest against Royals.
The score of 223/2 is also the highest score in the UAE by an IPL team. But Royals would be happy to pull back the target which once looked like in the access of 240.
Good overs between 16 to 19 bowled by Tom Curran (44/1 in 4 overs), Ankit Singh Rajpoot (39/1 in 4 overs) put some pressure back on the batsmen but it is still going to be a tough chase considering the likes of Mohammed Shami, Sheldon Cottrell, Ravi Bishnoi in the Kings XI bowling line-up.
Royals might have made a mistake by choosing to field first on this track but the match is far from being closed. A belter of the pitch and the dew factor might just give Royals an extra push in their quest to achieve the target. And if any team has the line-up to chase down this target, it is Rajasthan Royals with Steve Smith, Jos Buttler, Robin Uthappa, Sanju Samson.