Jaipur, May 11: Rajasthan Royals have it all to do when they take on Pune Warriors in the Indian Premier League (IPL) here Sunday. After a bright start to their campaign, Rajasthan find themselves in a spot of bother and need a win desperately to have any chance of qualifying for the play-offs.
The last time these two teams met, Rajasthan comfortably chased down a score of 125 for six with over three overs to spare and seven wickets in hand.
But losing to a late assault from Chennai Super Kings’ Albie Morkel (18 off six balls) and Srikkanth Anirudha (18 off six balls), Rajasthan failed to defend a mediocre score of 126 for six, making their qualification to the playoff a tough proposition.
With 12 points from 13 games, Rajasthan need to win their next three games to feel confident about the qualification. A solid opening pair in Ajinkya Rahane (480 runs from 13 matches) and their captain Rahul Dravid (397 from 13 games) has been their strength.
With the likes of Shaun Tait (five wickets from three matches), Shane Watson (four from four), Johan Botha (six from nine) and Siddharth Trivedi (11 from 11) performing, Rajasthan look to repeat their 2008 season feat when they went on to win the tournament.
Pune, with a new captain in the form of Steven Smith, didn’t find any respite as they were bundled out by a resurgent Royal Challengers Bangalore who won by 35 runs. Sourav Ganguly, who was rested for the Bangalore game, promised to return in their next match.
The presence of Australian skipper Michael Clarke (81 runs from five matches) failed to lift the Pune side. Ashok Dinda (nine wickets from seven games) promised a lot early but got injured, which has affected the squad adversely. Left-arm pacer Ashish Nehra (eight from 11 matches), the senior pro in the team, never looked in his dominating best.
The only positives the team can embrace would be the batting of its opener Robin Utappa (391 runs from 14 matches) and Smith (325 from 14).
A loss here for Rajasthan would mean their dream of clinching their second IPL title would disappear. With such huge stakes on Rajasthan, Pune have the luxury to play pressure free cricket.