Leading Rajasthan Royals for the first time, Sanju Samson kept the coin for himself after winning the toss against the newly rechristened Punjab Kings at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday. Samson, who walked for the toss with PBKS skipper KL Rahul, will lead any IPL side for the first time in the tournament's history.
Rajasthan handed debuts to Mustafizur Rahman, Chetan Sakariya, Manan Vohra and Shivam Dube in their season opener. The Punjab outfit also introduced new faces as they handed debut caps to Tamil Nadu's Shahrukh Khan and Australian duo Riley Meredith and Jhye Richardson.
"We are going to bowl first. We have challenges to face while picking the XI. But I am happy with the players we have. Morris, Stokes, Buttler, Mustafizur are our overseas players. Very excited about the role," said Samson after winning the toss.
The Kerala wicketkeeper-batsman is third in the list of players who have played most matches before captaining an IPL side. Kieron Pollard (137) and R Ashwin (111) are the first two names on the list.
In last year's IPL, Royals crumbled after looking promising in the early stage of the tournament. The team floundered towards the end of the season. In search of consistency, the Royals ultimately slumped to the eighth position and finished with the wooden spoon, falling behind Chennai Super Kings in terms of Net Run Rate.
Rajasthan Royals: Jos Buttler (wicket-keeper, overseas), Manan Vohra, Ben Stokes (overseas), Sanju Samson (captain), Riyan Parag, Shivam Dube, Rahul Tewatia, Chris Morris (overseas), Shreyas Gopal, Chetan Sakariya, Mustafizur Rahman (overseas).
Punjab Kings: KL Rahul (captain & wicket-keeper), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle (overseas), Nicholas Pooran (overseas), Deepak Hooda, Shahrukh Khan, Jhye Richardson (overseas), M Ashwin, Riley Meredith (overseas), Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh.