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The Preview by Sidharth Monga
April 20, 2011
Match factsThursday, April 21, Mohali
Big pictureAdam Gilchrist contributed to 59 of Shane Warne's Test wickets either through catches or stumpings, one more than Ian Healy did. And then there were the endless plans that the two would have worked out together. On Thursday, they will be using their cricket expertise and their knowledge of each other's games to try and beat the other guy's team. More than other captains, perhaps, Gilchrist and Warne have left deeper imprints on teams they have led in the IPL. They have won the thing once each too.
This year, Gilchrist seeks to leave his imprint on a new side, the Kings XI Punjab, while Rajasthan Royals have loyally retained Warne. They have had contrasting starts to their campaign. Rajasthan began with two wins before running into two defeats at the hands of Kolkata Knight Riders. Punjab lost their first game, didn't bowl exceptionally in their second, but then Paul Valthaty changed it all, winning them that game and the next. While Punjab will look to carry on that momentum, Rajasthan will look to arrest the slide.
Team talkThe last time Rajasthan played, they missed the injured Rahul Dravid and Johan Botha. While Dravid should walk into the XI if he is fit, it will be interesting to see if Rajasthan drop Shaun Tait for Botha. On current form, and considering the all-round skills of Botha, they should. Amit Paunikar hasn't got going as an opener, and his place could also come under scrutiny.
In their last game, Punjab brought in an extra seamer in Vikramjeet Singh Malik. It will be interesting to see if they persist with that winning combination in Mohali.
In the spotlightAt the moment, Paul Valthaty seems to be incapable of committing a mistake. In the last two games, he has scored a century and a fifty, and has also taken four wickets with his split-finger slower balls. If he keeps going in this vein, he is likely to stay on the winning side.
Shane Watson was one of the cornerstones of the success that Rajasthan Royals tasted in their first season. This time, though, he has got off to a slow start, scoring only 33 in two games. Rajasthan will look for some of what he did in Bangladesh immediately before coming to the IPL.
The chatter"He is known to spring surprises on the opposition. So we have to be ready for the challenges thrown at us."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Sidharth Monga
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