The 52nd match of IPL 2022 pits the Punjab Kings (PBKS) up against the Rajasthan Royals (RR) at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. While seventh-placed PBKS enters this contest on the back of a comprehensive win over the Gujarat Titans (GT), RR seeks to arrest a two-game losing streak.
Both teams will face each other for the first and only time in this season’s league phase. They have produced many a humdinger in seasons gone by, from Rahul Tewatia’s heist against Sheldon Cottrell in 2020 to Kartik Tyagi defending a mere four runs off the final over last year.
It is a crucial game for both sides who find themselves amid a mid-table clutter. The Royals have a slightly better cushion to fall on though, considering they’re on 12 points, but a defeat to PBKS will put both teams on even footing.
Considering it’s an afternoon start, batters from both sides will have a big say in the scorching Mumbai heat. On that note, we try to predict the three top scorers in today’s IPL 2022 clash at the Wankhede Stadium.
RR SKIPPER SANJU SAMSON
Sanju Samson will face the side against whom he made his captaincy debut last season. That game too happened to be at the Wankhede Stadium, with the RR skipper striking a sensational 119 – a record for the highest score on captaincy debut in the IPL.
Like just about every season, Samson has been timing the ball well and should fancy his chances on a good batting track against PBKS. He comes into this game on the back of a half-century against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), although that knock saw him slow down considerably as the innings progressed.
That said, Samson should relish the opportunity to put the Royals back on track after a couple of losses. Expect him to get amongst the runs against PBKS this afternoon.
JONNY BAIRSTOW – PBKS’ DASHER AT THE TOP
It’s been a forgettable IPL 2022 campaign thus far for Jonny Bairstow. The Englishman has endured a rough patch that very few saw coming, considering how lethal a force he is in white-ball cricket.
The Kings swapped his batting position and moved him to his preferred opening spot, with skipper Mayank Agarwal dropping down the order. While he didn’t get as many runs during PBKS’ win over GT, Bairstow should find himself a lot more at home at the top of the order.
Also, given that the game against RR is an afternoon one, there should be very little movement on offer. Bairstow should relish the new ball coming onto the bat and he isn’t one to shy away from taking down spin either. With his form only bound to go upwards hereon, today could well be the day he roars back into his best hitting form.
Is there a need to explain why? If RR plays, you back Jos Buttler. It’s as simple as that.
Mind you, it’s not been all hunky-dory over the last three games, with an extremely rusty 67 against the Mumbai Indians (MI) intertwined with two failures for the Englishman. Yet, it’s hard to find a more complete batter in T20 cricket at the moment, and you’d think there’s more of his pyrotechnics still to come in IPL 2022.
PBKS’ bowling unit is starting to take good shape, with Kagiso Rabada getting amongst the wickets and Rishi Dhawan doing his bit. However, stopping the Buttler train has been a task of the tallest order for most bowling units.
On what is expected to be a good batting strip, Buttler will be smacking his lips at the prospect of adding to his tally of 588 runs this season. We don’t expect anything different, either!