Kings XI Punjab v Rajasthan Royals, IPL, Cape Town April 25, 2009

Late starters keen to fire

Match facts

April 26, 2009
Start time 16.45pm (14.45GMT)

Big Picture

Rajasthan Royals are a point ahead of Kings XI Punjab - by virtue of a washout against Mumbai Indians - but both teams scored their first victories in only their third games of the season. While Punjab earned their first points through a perfectly-executed chase against Bangalore Royal Challengers, Rajasthan held their nerve to force a tie against Kolkata Knight Riders and then clinched the Super Over.

Punjab had terrible luck in the lead up to the IPL - several of their Australian stars were either injured or unavailable - and in the early stages of the second season with both their games being severely disrupted by rain. However, their luck finally changed on a sunny day in Durban: their bowlers restricted Bangalore to a manageable target and Ravi Bopara scored a wonderfully-paced half-century to secure victory with barely any trouble at all.

Rajasthan have also been struggling to cope with the absence of their best performers from last season - Shane Watson and Sohail Tanvir - and Graeme Smith's form has been poor so far. As a result, their batting collapsed in the first game against Bangalore and they relied on their middle order to prop them up to a defendable total against Kolkata. Shane Warne's been tinkering with the bowling attack, opening with Dimitri Mascarenhas and Yusuf Pathan in the first two games. He's also shown a lot of faith in Kamran Khan, who was given the responsibility of bowling the Super Over to Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum. Expect more surprises on Sunday.

Form guide

Punjab: Yusuf Abdulla found form after two indifferent outings and took 4 for 31 against Bangalore by using the slower ball to good effect. Among the overseas batsman, Bopara has been the form player at the top of the order but the Sri Lankans Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene are yet to make significant contributions.

Rajasthan: Yusuf Pathan has been Rajasthan's go-to man. He cracked 42 off 21 balls against Kolkata, opened the bowling with a tidy spell, and chased down the target of 16 in the Super Over.

Watch out for

Warne v Jayawardene and Sangakkara: Warne's wiles have proved too much to handle for the lesser batsmen in the tournament but on Sunday he will be up against two international players with plenty of experience against playing quality spin.

Team news

Both teams are unlikely to make significant changes to the line-ups that secured maiden victories in their previous games.

Punjab: 1 Ravi Bopara, 2 Karan Goel, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Yuvraj Singh (capt), 5 Mahela Jayawardene, 6 Irfan Pathan, 7 Wilkin Mota, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 VRV Singh, 10 Ranadeb Bose, 11 Yusuf Abdulla.

Rajasthan: 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Paul Valthaty, 3 Rob Quiney, 4 Yusuf Pathan, 5 Ravindra Jadeja, 6 Dimitri Mascarenhas, 7 Abhishek Raut, 8 Shane Warne (capt), 9 Mahesh Rawat (wk), 10 Munaf Patel, 11 Kamran Khan.

Head-to-head record

Watson powered Rajasthan to a six-wicket victory against Punjab in Jaipur in the first clash between the teams in 2008. However, Punjab bounced back in the second game with Shaun Marsh smashing 115 off 69 balls to secure a 41-run win in Mohali.

George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo