By Dinesh Sharma
Jaipur, May 12, 2012
Faced with the daunting task of winning all their remaining matches for having any chance of making the playoffs, Rajasthan Royals would fancy a facile victory when they take on the struggling Pune Warriors in an IPL match on Sunday.
Royals are lying sixth with 12 points from 13 matches and have to win the remaining three to keep their playoff hopes alive.
On the other hand, Pune are at the eighth position with only eight points in kitty from 14 matches, close defeats against Delhi Daredevils and Chennai Super kings hurting them the most. Add to this the leadership crisis that the team is facing due to an off-colour skipper Sourav Ganguly.
He rested himself last night but promised to be back for this game despite team owner Subrata Roy's claims that Ganguly would play a mentor's role from next season.
Royals, on the other hand, have no such worries and have an inspirational leader in Rahul Dravid. They have played good cricket against fancied rivals but have been guilty of frittering away opportunities.
They might have the edge against the Pune but a victory here would not be enough as they will have to win all remaining three and pray that the other results also go in their favour.
The hosts would like to start afresh from this juncture and make full use of every opportunity.
For the past couple of matches, they could find the right team composition and earned two good victories but rain played spoilsport for them in the crucial match against Chennai Super Kings.
The recent failure of Ajinkya Rahane has hurt them but Australian all-rounder Shane Watson has looked in top form.
Dravid has been in good nick as well but the rest did not play to expectations at least in the last match. Pune too has decent line-up that includes the likes of Australian skipper Michael Clarke, Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey who can be explosive on their day.
The bowling, however, is a concern but Angelo Mathews and Rahul Sharma are clever customers. The visitors would be looking to salvage their pride and prove that they are still a force.
Both the teams who are in rough weather avoided the pre-match press briefing and the practice session on Saturday. (PTI)
RR (probable): Rahul Dravid(c), Ajinkya Rahane, Shane Watson, Ashok Menaria, Brad Hodge, Johan Botha, Stuart Binny, Dishant Yagnik(wk), Siddharth Trivedi, Pankaj Singh, Shaun Tait
PWI (probable): Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa(wk), Mohnish Mishra, Michael Clarke, Steven Smith(c), Angelo Mathews, Anustup Majumdar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rahul Sharma, Krishnakant Upadhyay, Alfonso Thomas