One doesn’t really know how much of Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) captain KL Rahul’s knock did his rival for the next game, Rajasthan Royals (RR) skipper Steve Smith, followed, but the impact of that inning wouldn’t have passed the Australian by. While it would be a little optimistic to assume that Rahul could do this every day, at least KXIP are going to be a challenge, and RR will surely need to be on top of their game to be able to compete. They themselves were in fine nick against Chennai Super Kings, hammering a 200-plus score, but that too is not a daily affair, though they would like it to be.

Rajasthan Royals really did have control over CSK in their previous game. Smith was in fine nick and Sanju Samson once again had people shaking their heads about why he doesn’t play for India more often.

The Kerala wicketkeeper batsman was in insane mode – a strike rate of 231.25 as he scored 74 off 32 balls with nine sixes!

On top of that, Jofra Archer then destroyed the death bowling.

The bowling conceded 200 runs, but by the time MS Dhoni began his attack, the match was largely over, so a little leeway can be made for the bowlers.

Rahul Tewatia impressed, but got some help from the batsmen. Archer can be searing at times while Tom Curran is always competitive. Jaydev Unadkat remains the eternal mystery of IPL cricket.

KXIP will have little to complain about. After the heartbreak against Delhi Capitals, a match they should have won, Rahul decided to lead from the front and though there was some largesse from RCB skipper Virat Kohli, Rahul deserved his century.

When the batting side gets just 109 runs, the bowling always looks good. But in real terms, Mohammad Shami is in fine nick and Sheldon Cottrell has used his left-arm over very effectively.

The spinners – Ravi Bishnoi, Murugan Ashwin and even Glenn Maxwell – have little to complain about, so it all looks good for now.

Smith, Samson and the rest of the RR batsmen though may have something to say about that.

With both battings in fine nick, the bowlers will be challenged, especially on the stamp-sized Sharjah ground. This promises to be another hammer-fest and whoever lands the most blows will win.

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