Stunned Royals face Hyderabad test
Match factsMay 17, 2013
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Big PictureIt is that time of the year again. Exactly a year ago, the BCCI suspended five Indian domestic players for alleged corruption. Three more, all from the same franchise, have been suspended a year later, and this time, a Test cricketer is allegedly involved. Rajasthan Royals will barely have had time to let the revelations sink in. They had a day's gap between their penultimate league game in Mumbai and their last one in Hyderabad, and were travelling when the news was being broken to the outside world.
The statements from Delhi police, shocking and disturbing as they are, don't take anything away from Rahul Dravid and Royals, who have done exceedingly well this season to make the playoffs ahead of fancied sides such as Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders. They now need to pick themselves up to face Sunrisers Hyderabad, who are also coming off a defeat to Mumbai Indians.
While Royals have lost nothing at home this season, they have won only two of seven away matches. The playoffs won't be in Jaipur. This is their last chance to try and finish in the top two so that they get two shots at making the final. A win may not take their minds completely off what has happened but nevertheless, a win is still a win.
Sunrisers are among the three sides in contention for the final playoff spot and are also the best placed among them, though their net run-rate at the moment is lower than Royal Challengers and Kings XI Punjab. After a scarcely believable assault from Kieron Pollard, they are back at their home ground, where their bowlers have tied down visiting sides this season. Sunrisers have another match to go against Knight Riders on Sunday, but considering their run-rate, would not want to leave it for then.
Form guideSunrisers Hyderabad: LWLWW (most recent first)
Rajasthan Royals: LWWWW
In the spotlightRahul Dravid came back after a year away from the game to lead Royals again. He's made runs, he's dropped himself down the order when needed, he's shown rare anger at an umpire's decision, and he's led his side to the playoffs. Domestic players such as Sanju Samson and Stuart Binny have flowered under his watch. No captain will like to see three of his players suspended for the reasons they have been going into the business end of the season. It is a professional world, and each man is out for himself, but in Dravid, Royals have just the man to guide them, on and off the field, through these developments.
He's charged in like he wants to take a wicket every ball, and he's still gone for just 5.73 an over. Dale Steyn has shown that genuine speed and real class can have a place in the world of Twenty20. Pollard's fury of hitting was sandwiched between two overs from Steyn which were too good to be slogged away. Whether you like T20 or not, four overs of Steyn are worth watching anytime.
Stats and trivia
- Royals have won two of the three games they have played in Hyderabad
- Sunrisers have conceded just 6.68 runs per over at home, easily the best figures this season
Quotes"Batting-wise we have been controlling the innings really well. Partnerships have been amazing with Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane and we know that everyone is going to chip in at some stage and on one day it is going to be our day. I think bowling-wise we are certainly bowling better towards the end of our innings as well."
Royals allrounder Shane Watson
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo