Rajasthan Royals

Rajasthan Royals would be looking to continue their winning run on their home ground this season © IANS

By Sabi Hussain

Jaipur: May 4, 2013

‘Revenge’ would be on top of Rajasthan Royals‘ agenda when they host a struggling Pune Warriors India in a Pepsi Indian Premier League match at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium, on Sunday.

The last time the two sides met in Pune on April 11, the Royals were comfortably beaten by seven wickets with Warriors skipper Aaron Finch hitting a classy half-century while chasing a 146-run target.

But since then, Pune’s campaign has gone completely haywire as they find themselves currently at the bottom of the points table with just two wins from 11 matches played so far.

Desperate to make amends, Pune face an uphill task to tame the Royals in their own den, which has been a happy hunting ground for them.

The Royals have an unblemished home record this season.

But they have looked a pale shadow of themselves in away matches, the most recent being the eight-wicket thrashing at the hands of Kolkata Knight Riders in Gardens last night.

Despite the loss, the Royals have maintained their hold on the third spot on the points table.

The Royals can seek solace from the fact that they have converted their home venue into a fortress where they had defeated the likes of mighty Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

The Royals used their knowledge about the pitch and weather condition to perfection and that will give them the confidence to put behind their last night defeat and regroup themselves quickly to make the final surge towards securing a play-off berth.

Australian all-rounder Shane Watson and 18-year-old Kerala lad Sanju Samson have been the positives for Royals.

Watson has so far amassed 349 runs from eight games while Samson, whose 63 off 41 balls while chasing 172 against RCB, has caught the attention of many rival camps.

Watson has proved handy with the ball too, picking up six wickets so far.

But Samson has been the find of the season for the Royals as his useful contributions with the bat has provided the Jaipur outfit the much-needed impetus in the middle-order.

Watson, who recently stepped down as the vice-captain of Australia, will once again be a vital cog in the scheme of things against the Pune Warriors.

For skipper Rahul Dravid, it would be important to see how his men put behind the KKR defeat and come out strongly on home turf tomorrow.

The batting for the hosts looks good with Watson firing at the top and the likes of Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane providing the much-needed solidity. Brad Hodge, Stuart Binny and Dishant Yagnik have also come good when required.

On the bowling front, left-arm pacer James Faulkner has been a revelation, while Sidharth Trivedi and Binny have produced consistent performances. However, temeparamental pacer S Sreesanth has failed to live up to his expectation.

The hosts have also used spinners Ajit Chandila and Ankit Chavan as surprise weapons.

However, one thing which surprised many was Dravid’s change in the batting order against KKR.

Dravid came in to bat at No. 8 last night, possibly the lowest he has ever batted and the former India captain would not like to experiment again with the settled combination.

On the other hand, Pune Warriors cup of woes is brimming over. They suffered their sixth straight loss against Royal Challengers Bangalore the other day.

And come tomorrow it won’t be an easy task for Finch’s boys as they are up against an ever-improving Rajasthan side.

The Warriors have been woefully out of sorts and inconsistent in all departments of the game. Their batting and bowling has is yet to click together in the tournament.

Australian Steve Smith has chipped in with useful contributions, but Yuvraj hasn’t fired with the bat in this edition and has managed just 156 runs from his eight games.

Bowling also remains a big concern for Pune as most of their bowlers have leaked runs especially pacer Ashoke Dinda,, who went for 52 runs from his four against RCB.

Poor death bowling has been hurting Pune. They gave away 68 runs in the last five overs against RCB and conceded 62 off their last five against Chennai.

But Pune will take heart from the fact Kane Richardson and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar are complementing each other well.