Rajasthan bank on win and hope
Match factsMay 20, 2009
Start time 12.30 pm (10.30 am GMT, 4.00 pm IST)
The IPL, much like India's political system in an era of coalition governments, is resembling a numbers game with spots for the semis set to be narrowed down by net run-rate and the fortunes of other teams. Kolkata Knight Riders' upset win over Chennai Super Kings in Centurion gave an indication of their prominent role in spite of being knocked out, and they may wreck another team's hopes of reaching the top four on Wednesday.
The scenario for Rajasthan is: lose and you're out of the tournament, win and stay alive. A victory does not guarantee them a place in the semi-finals; they'll have to rely on other results and net run-rates to see where they finish. More than a win, Rajasthan will have to beat Kolkata by a large margin to boost their chances, as their negative net run-rate may work against them. But their task is a stiff one, for Kolkata - who saw off a horrific run of eight consecutive defeats - have finally redeemed themselves somewhat. They will be strongly determined to end their IPL on a high by inflicting a heartbreak on their opponents.
Form guide (completed matches, most recent first)
Rajasthan Royals - LWLLW
Rajasthan have serious problems with their batting. They've shuffled around the openers but none have proved consistent, including Graeme Smith. In the middle order, Yusuf Pathan's slump has hurt them badly. He's managed 53 runs in his last five innings, but is one among several who've failed. Nos. 3 to 8 have only averaged 14.81 between them in the same period, indicating a let down across the board.
Kolkata Knight Riders - WLLLL
Kolkata's batting is in good health with Brendon McCullum returning to form, Brad Hodge remaining highly reliable and David Hussey marking an excellent return to the IPL. Their pace attack has been their major weakness, and McCullum has often had to turn to Murali Kartik and Hodge to stem the scoring. Ajit Agarkar has been especially poor, going at over ten runs an over over in each of the last three games.
Watch out for
Ravindra Jadeja - In an ailing middle order, Jadeja has proved the mainstay, notching up scores of 27, 19*, 42 and 24 in his last four appearances. With the batting around him crumbling, he does merit a promotion up the order. He's also proved extremely useful as a left-arm spinner, taking six wickets at an average of 23, but had an off day against Mumbai Indians when Sachin Tendulkar took him for 18 in an over.
Brendon McCullum - The innings of 84 against Bangalore sparked a reversal in fortunes, and his 81 against Chennai immediately brought back memories of his murderous assault in the IPL opener last year. He's struggled as captain, which had affected his own form, and despite the encouraging win in the last game, he is likely to step down after tomorrow.
For a must-win game, Rajasthan have to consider their options carefully. They have to strengthen their batting, and may just draft in Swapnil Asnodkar. Abhishek Raut has hardly made any contribution in the last five games, scoring 19 in three innings, and hasn't done much with the ball. He could step out to make way for Asnodkar. Naman Ojha has been disappointing in his last four games, managing just 26 runs but given the untested reserves, leaving him out could prove a big gamble.
Rajasthan Royals (probable): 1 Rob Quiney, 2 Graeme Smith, 3 Swapnil Asnodkar, 4 Ravindra Jadeja, 5 Yusuf Pathan, 6 Johan Botha, 7 Naman Ojha (wk), 8 Shane Warne (capt), 9 Amit Singh, 10 Siddharth Trivedi, 11 Munaf Patel.
Kolkata might make some changes, giving those have spent all their time at the bench a look-in for their final game of the tournament. Charl Langeveldt's inclusion is long overdue, and he should come in for Ajantha Mendis. Agarkar's continued presence in the playing XI has surprised many, and after three successive failures, he could make way for Shoaib Shaikh, who didn't do anything in his debut game.
Kolkata Knight Riders (probable): 1 Brendon McCullum (capt), 2 Sourav Ganguly, 3 Brad Hodge, 4 David Hussey, 5 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 6 Laxmi Shukla, 7 Ajit Agarkar, 8 Charl Langeveldt, 9 Murali Kartik, 10 Ashok Dinda, 11 Shoaib Shaikh.
Stats and trivia
- Munaf Patel conceded 25 runs in the 19th over of the game against Delhi Dardedevils, the second-most expensive of the tournament.
- Both Munaf and Shane Warne are the highest wicket-takers for Rajasthan with 14 each.
- McCullum scored 62 of his 81 runs against Chennai in boundaries, the third-highest in the tournament.
- The 90-run stand between Hodge and McCullum is the highest for any wicket for Kolkata this IPL.
The teams fought a thrilling tie earlier in the tournament, which was then decided by a super over where Yusuf knocked off 18 in four balls off Mendis to shut out Kolkata. Last year, Asnodkar and Yusuf helped Rajasthan thump Kolkata by 45 runs in Jaipur. Yusuf again starred for them in the second game between the two teams, making a quickfire 48 to seal a comfortable six-wicket win.
Siddhartha Talya is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo