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By Nishad Pai Vaidya
May 4, 2014
Rajasthan Royals (RR) are away from their fortress of Sawai Mansingh Stadium, but they have to make do with the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014. Their first game at their new home venue is against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Monday. While Rajasthan are getting stronger with each passing game and are in the top tier of the IPL 2014 Points Table, Kolkata are in the other half and are yet to find their A game in IPL 7..
Rajasthan have backed their formula of encouraging youth and it invariably works for them every single time. In the last game, Karun Nair came to the party with a splendid knock while chasing against Delhi Daredevils, and that is a good sign for Rajasthan. They have now found a good opening partner for Ajinkya Rahane and it adds to their top order. While the opening combination is more classy and correct, they are followed by Sanju Samson and Shane Watson, men who can take the attack to the opposition. And the middle has attacking players in Stuart Binny and Steven Smith.
Rajasthan have a settled bowling attack, although they shuffle with Dhawal Kulkarni’s spot. Pravin Tambe is the man who breaks the momentum of the opposition in the middle overs and even Rajat Bhatia does the job for his side. The fast bowling combination of Kane Richardson and James Faulkner is working very well for Rajasthan.
Kolkata, on the other hand, have numerous questions surrounding their batting, which hasn’t quite got going. In the last game, the move to promote Robin Uthappa worked well and he should continue to do the job with Gautam Gambhir. Manish Pandey and Jacques Kallis are the other important men in the middle-order. But perhaps the most encouraging sign in the last game was Yusuf Pathan’s return to form. They need the big hitting right-hander to do well as he has had a woeful run off late.
Sunil Narine is the key bowler and would look to exploit the conditions at Ahmedabad. But, there also is Shakib Al Hasan who can restrict the flow of runs. Morne Morkel did not get a game last time and he may come back for Andre Russell.
Rajasthan are gradually building into a good side with momentum, whereas Kolkata are searching for it as they clash at Ahmedabad. Rajasthan should be the clear favourites.
Rajasthan Royals: Shane Watson (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Brad Hodge, Sanju Samson, Stuart Binny, Ankush Bains, James Faulkner, Pravin Tambe, Kevon Cooper, Unmukt Chand, Steven Smith, Ben Cutting, Deepak Hooda, Iqbal Abdullah, Karun Nair, Vikramjeet Malik, Abhishek Nayar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Kane Richardson, Dishant Yagnik (wk), Tim Southee, Rahul Tewatia, Ankit Sharma, Amit Mishra.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (c), Jacques Kallis, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Shakib Al Hasan, Manvinder Bisla (wk), Ryan ten Doeschate, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Kuldeep Yadav, Pat Cummins, Debabrata Das, Piyush Chawla, Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav, Sayan Mondal, R Vinay Kumar, Andre Russell, Veer Pratap Singh.
Time: 20:00 IST | 14:30 GMT
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