Rajasthan face Kings XI pace challenge
Match factsSunday, April 14, 2013
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Big PictureWith fitness concerns to key players and a controversy dredged up from the past, Rajasthan Royals have a lot on their plate as they take on Kings XI Punjab on Sunday. Both teams were beaten convincingly in their last game and while they may seem evenly matched, Kings XI hold a slender advantage over Royals.
If their dismal bowling against Pune Warriors is anything to go by, Royals missed Rahul Shukla and Shaun Tait and, on a home track that had pace and carry in its first game, the absence will be more acute. James Faulkner bowled well against Warriors but it is Sreesanth's inconsistency that will worry Royals. Moreover, the fast-paced wicket in Jaipur will favour the Kings XI bowlers, with their line-up of Praveen Kumar, Ryan Harris, Azhar Mahmood and Parvinder Awana. They stifled Warriors in the first game and on a responsive pitch, with their varying styles, can be an effective attack.
Their collapse in the last game aside, Royals have a relatively settled look to their batting line-up. Rahul Dravid, Ajinkya Rahane, Brad Hodge and Stuart Binny have been among the runs, making up for the absence of a big-hitter. Their most significant weaknesses are the opening combination - in three games, their highest opening stand is 22, between Rahane and Kusal Perera - and the tendency to lose wickets in clusters towards the end, as was evident against Warriors. With two important bowlers missing from their ranks and Shane Watson injured - though Owais Shah said on the eve of the game that they should have a fully-fit squad to pick from come match day* - they will need to post a substantial total to challenge the Kings XI batsmen Adam Gilchrist, David Hussey, Mandeep Singh and Manan Vohra.
Players to watchWith of string of scores in the 30s, Ajinkya Rahane seems to have found his groove in IPL 2013. He's been losing his wicket after getting a start and against an opposition that has a challenging pace attack, the Royals will bank on Rahane to play a big innings.
In spite of a career riddled with injuries, there are few who doubt Ryan Harris's skill or commitment to the game. He took 19 wickets in three first-class matches for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield this year and with a pace that skids on to the batsman, he can be a handful for the Royals' batsman.
Stats and trivia
- Praveen Kumar shares the record for the most number of maiden overs bowled in the IPL (9)
- Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals have beaten by 10 wickets twice in the IPL.
- Siddarth Trivedi is the most successful bowler for Rajasthan Royals against Kings XI Punjab with nine wickets in seven matches.
Quotes"Shane Watson was not fit in the last match but at the moment, as far as we have been told, everyone is fit to play. And the coaches and captain will pick [the XI] from a fit squad."
Owais Shah says Royals have moved on from their injury concerns
"We have a lot of youngsters and will take time to settle down in the tournament."
Kings XI Punjab captain Adam Gilchrist on his team's lack of experience after the loss to Chennai Super Kings
*06.30GMT, April 14: The preview has been updated after pre-match press conference quotes arrived
Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo