Rajasthan Royals would be desperately seeking to snap their three-match losing streak when they face Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League on Saturday.
Despite Yusuf Pathan’s hurricane 37-ball 100, 2008 champions Royals lost their opening match against Mumbai Indians.
They were done in by a Virender Sehwag special against Delhi Daredevils before a free fall against Royal Challengers Bangalore saw them slump to IPL 3 lowest total of 92.
Shane Warne’s side, which has lost South African Graeme Smith and Englishman Dmitri Mascarenhas due to injuries, will have to come up with something special to arrest the slide.
New recruit Shaun Tait has been disappointing so far leaking runs and the Jaipur-based side will have to think whether to continue with the Australian fast bowler.
Indian players like Swapnil Asnodkar, Naman Ojha and Munaf Patel have also been disappointing so far and they will have to come up with a good show if the Royals are to snap the losing streak.
The Knight Riders, on the other hand, began IPL 3 with a bang with two consecutive wins, against defending champions Deccan Chargers and last edition runners-up Royal Challengers Bangalore, only to suffer a comprehensive loss at the hands of Chennai Super Kings.
Kolkata Knight Riders will have to improve their bowling at the death and batsmen will have to set price on their wickets if the team is to get to winning ways.
Except for left-arm spinner Murali Kartik, all the Knight Rider bowlers were expensive against Chennai Super Kings and the Kolkata side will have to sort out that aspect of the game against the likes of Yusuf Pathan on Saturday.
Murali Kartik has been in good form and captain Sourav Ganguly would be looking for his main spinner to continue the good form.
Fast bowler Shane Bond, who joined the IPL bandwagon this season, was impressive in the first three overs of his debut match against Chennai Super Kings but conceded runs galore in his last over to end up on an expensive note.
Kolkata Knight Riders though will be strengthened by the return of swashbuckling West Indies batsman Chris Gayle who joins the side here and either of Brad Hodge or Manoj Tiwary will have to drop down the order.
Not only the outcome of the match, the crowd at the Sardar Patel Stadium at Motera, the adopted home of the Royals, would see two charismatic skippers — Sourav Ganguly and Shane Warne — not the best buddies in their playing days, marshalling their flock.
The Teams (From):
Kolkata Knight Riders: Sourav Ganguly (capt.), Ajit Agarkar, Shane Bond, Ashok Dinda, Eklak Ahmid, Rohan Gavaskar, Brad Hodge, Varun Aaron, Chris Gayle, Iqbal Abdulla, Murali Kartik, Harshad Khadiwale, Charl Langeveldt, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Chirag Pathak, Cheteshwar Pujara, Wriddhiman Saha, Owais Shah, Ishant Sharma, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Manoj Tiwary, Ganapathi Vignesh.
Rajasthan Royals: Shane Warne (capt.), Swapnil Asnodkar, Johan Botha, Faiz Fazal, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, Kamran Khan, Michael Lumb, Damien Martyn, Morne Morkel, Sumit Narwal, Naman Ojha (wk), Munaf Patel, Yusuf Pathan, Amit Paunikar, Syed Quadri, Abhishek Raut, Amit Singh, Shaun Tait, Siddharth Trivedi, Amit Uniyal, Shrikant Wagh. (PTI)