Shortly after Rajasthan Royals began practice on Friday evening, a dust storm hit the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. Everything was a blur for a while. These dreaded storms are not uncommon here at this time of the year and can be deadly, literally.
Come Sunday, Ajinkya Rahane’s men will have an even deadlier storm to worry about. Hurricane Andre has truly taken this IPL by storm.
Russell’s matchless hitting gives Kolkata Knight Riders the cutting edge. If Dinesh Karthik’s men have won three of their four games — and taken the other to the Super Over — the Jamaican all-rounder is the prime reason.
From four innings, he has smashed 207 runs at a strike rate of 268.83 and an average of 103.5.
Of the 77 balls he has faced, 22 have gone over the rope and 12 across it. That means he has actually run only 27 of his runs.
Kolkata’s batting is not merely about Russell, however. Nitish Rana has been in fine form, and there are dependable men like Karthik, Robin Uthappa and Shubman Gill to come in after Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine.
The same cannot be said about the bowling, though. Wrist-spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla are the only Kolkata bowlers to boast an economy rate of less than nine.
The host’s bowling looks sharper. Pacers Jofra Archer and Ben Sokes and spinners Shreyas Gopal and K. Gowtham form a formidable attack.
Gopal was brilliant in the last match. It was the leg-spinner’s three prized wickets — Virat Kohli, A.B. de Villiers and Shimron Hetmyer — that led the Royals to their first win of the season, against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Should Sanju Samson, the scorer of the first hundred of the season, return after missing out the last game with a niggle, the batting would be further strengthened. The form of Jos Buttler, Ajinkya Rahane, Steve Smith and Rahul Tripathi also inspires confidence.