Rajasthan have no room for error
Match factsSunday, May 13, 2012
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
The defeat to Chennai Super Kings on Thursday has left Rajasthan Royals almost certainly needing to win all three of their remaining matches to make the playoffs. They are buoyed by the fact that of their remaining games, two of them are against Pune Warriors and Deccan Chargers, teams who are already down and out.
At the top of the order, Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Dravid have proved the most productive opening partnership of the tournament, and Brad Hodge lurks as an accomplished finisher in the middle order. But the two players Rajasthan need on top of their game will be Shane Watson and Shaun Tait. Watson showed how dangerous he can be in the match against Pune Warriors; on a slow track on which pretty much everyone else struggled, he slugged boundaries at will. Tait brings the cutting edge to an attack that had previously relied of medium-pacers specialising in taking pace off the ball.
There's plenty of confusion in the opposition camp. Warriors have had a disastrous campaign and have lost seven matches in a row, but a controversy over their captain Sourav Ganguly has kept them in the headlines. There were conflicting reports on whether he would play the remaining matches this season, and he sat out of the defeat to Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday, though he insisted he would be back for Sunday's encounter. Will he, or will Steven Smith continue to lead the side?
Form guide(most recent first, completed games)
Rajasthan Royals: LWWLL
Pune Warriors: LLLLL
Players to watchMichael Clarke was Warriors' most high-profile signing this season, but the Australia captain hasn't managed to translate his international form to the Twenty20 of the IPL. After five innings, he has only collected 85 runs at a pedestrian strike-rate of 111.84. Is that enough to justify a place in the starting XI for an overseas specialist batsman?
Shaun Tait was outstanding when the two teams met earlier in the week, crushing Warriors with a spell of 3 for 13. He was solid in the first three overs of his next game as well, against Super Kings, but when given the penultimate over, the old worries over Tait resurfaced as he overstepped once and followed it up with five wides down the leg side to concede 12 runs off one delivery. Will Tait get his line and length right on Sunday?
Stats and trivia
- On Sunday, Siddharth Trivedi will become the most capped player for Royals. He is currently level with Shane Warne on 56 matches.
- Robin Uthappa is the only player to have been part of all 28 matches that Warriors have played. Rahul Sharma (24) and Jesse Ryder (22) are next on the list.
Quotes"It was a bad loss against Chennai but we can still make it to playoffs if we win the three remaining matches."
Johan Botha hasn't given up yet.
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo