Rajasthan look for first win, against upbeat Bangalore
Bangalore v Rajasthan in Bangalore
Thursday, March 18
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
The captain's legbreaks are not coming out right; the most imposing batsman of the team has broken a finger, the canny wicket-taker has done an ankle; their fastest bowler is fast becoming wider than he is fast; and the talismanic allrounder's arrival is still two Test matches away. So average were the rest that even a 37-ball hundred from their big hitter proved to be inadequate. Rajasthan Royals need to find inspiration from somewhere, somehow they need to stay afloat till Shane Watson arrives and joins forces with Yusuf Pathan.
To stay afloat would mean to not lose three out of first three. To not lose three out of first three would mean to beat a team that successfully chased 204 at the same venue two days ago, without even needing Eoin Morgan. After a one-sided defeat to Kolkata Knight Riders in their first match, Royal Challengers Bangalore seems to have put the pieces together, at least in the batting department. Orange cap Jacques Kallis is to be the springboard; Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa and Morgan are to soar. If the plan goes wrong, there are Rahul Dravid and Mark Boucher. The bowlers still remain a worry, and Bangalore will be pleased if they can get a better show from Praveen Kumar and Dale Steyn.
Rajasthan have lost Graeme Smith and Dimitri Mascarenhas for the whole season, and will struggle for replacements. Adam Voges is due to arrive in India on Wednesday, and he could start in the XI. Alternatively Hampshire's Michael Lumb could replace Smith. Damien Martyn is there too, but unlikely to play; if he does, and does well, it will be a pleasant shock. Mascarenhas' replacement will be difficult to pick: there is Johan Botha and Morne Morkel to choose from, and neither brings in the batting prowess that Mascarenhas did. Bangalore's batting looks largely settled, and they might want to give the same bowling unit another go.
In 2009, Bangalore won their first game against Rajasthan by 75 runs in Cape Town. Rajasthan returned the favour when they met next, winning just as comprehensively, by seven wickets, chasing 106 at the same venue.
In the spotlight
Shane Warne just seems to be holding back when bowling them legbreaks. There's just not enough fizz on them, and duly he has failed to trouble batsmen and gone for 51 in seven overs. It can happen with a man who had not bowled in competitive atmosphere for a year, and it will be interesting to see what is coming up next.
Both teams know that Rajasthan are the underdogs in the match, but they also know that it takes only 15 minutes of Yusuf Pathan to turn the match on its head. Right now, it's about as bad as Rajasthan have ever needed him.
Eoin Morgan didn't get going in Bangalore's first match and wasn't required in the second. India is yet to witness first-hand what has made Morgan one of the most exciting Twenty20 batsmen going around.
"SRK is also a friend... And I wish him luck tonight, congrats also to Jumbo [Anil Kumble] on his win. He is a true gentleman…"
Shane Warne's twitter page shows he kept an eye on the Bangalore-Punjab match.
"He is the Bradman of Twenty20."
Robin Uthappa is not quite sure if he is praising Jacques Kallis or taking the piss.
"I'm certainly not on a holiday as I'm fully committed to playing and helping the Royals win."
Damien Martyn tweets his commitment to the cause.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo