May 7: Punjab Kings v Rajasthan Royals, 52nd Match, Wankhede Stadium
Safe XI: Jos Buttler (capt), Sanju Samson, Shikhar Dhawan, Bhanuka Rajapaksa (vice-capt), Shimron Hetmyer, R Ashwin, Rishi Dhawan, Liam Livingstone, Kagiso Rabada, Prasidh Krishna, Kuldeep Sen
Captain: Jos Buttler
This season’s leading run-scorer with 588 runs in ten outings at an average of 65.33 is our choice for captain for the safe XI. He has scored 386 runs in ten innings at a strike rate of 155.65 against Punjab Kings and also loves batting at the Wankhede Stadium as he has scored more T20 runs here than any other place in the world – 764 runs in 24 games at a strike rate of 148.06
Vice-captain: Bhanuka Rajapaksa
The Sri Lanka batter has been extremely consistent recording four 30-plus scores in six outings. Although he is yet to get a big score this season, this game might give him the chance to do it. His two scores in this venue are 31(9) and 42(32) earlier this season.
Kagiso Rabada: After a couple of consecutive four-fors, the South African pacer is a must-have in our safe XI. He is the joint third leading wicket-taker this season with 17 wickets in nine games. Against Royals, he has never gone wicketless in five games, taking a total of nine wickets. He has never gone wicketless at the Wankhede too, picking up 13 wickets in eight T20s.
Sanju Samson: Even though Buttler has hogged the limelight this season, Royals captain Sanju Samson has played some crucial knocks. He has hit the most number of sixes against spinners this season – 14 sixes in just 82 balls, a six almost every single over. Since 2018 against the Punjab franchise, he has been in fine form scoring 363 runs in eight games at an average of 45.38 and a strike rate of 163.51.
R Ashwin: Ashwin’s bowling form this season has been a tale of two halves. In the first five games he just picked up one wicket, however, in the second half he has picked up seven wickets. He has played some vital knocks for Royals, coming in to bat at various positions.
Shimron Hetmyer: The left-handed batter from Guyana has been one of the best finishers this season scoring 260 runs in ten games at a strike rate of 163.52. He is the leading run-scorer in the death overs this season with 185 runs at a strike rate of 215.11 with just two dismissals in that phase.
High-Risk XI: Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson (capt), Shikhar Dhawan (vice-capt), Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Devdutt Padikkal, Liam Livingstone, Yuzvendra Chahal, Trent Boult, Sandeep Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Prasidh Krishna