Rajasthan, Punjab clash in battle of laggards

High on morale after ending their three-match losing streak, both Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab would be hoping to carry on the winning momentum when the two teams clash against each other in an Indian Premier League on Wednesday.

Kings XI and Rajasthan Royals are at the bottom of the points table with just one win out of the four matches they played in the event so far and both the teams need to get their acts together to be in with the slightest chance of progressing to the semi-finals.

Notwithstanding, their performance in the tournament so far, on paper Kings XI look a more formidable side as the team has plenty of international stars up its ranks.

As if Yuvraj Singh’s return to form was not enough of a worry for Rajasthan, Kings XI, who snapped their losing streak with a thrilling Super Over win over Chennai Super Kings last Saturday, got a major boost when Aussie speedster Brett Lee and opener Shaun Marsh joined the side on Monday.

In the last match against Chennai, Punjab’s batting mainly revolved around Irfan Pathan and Yuvraj with the duo managing 82 runs in the 10 overs they faced between them, while the rest of the batters wore a sorry look, scoring just 54.

Englishman Ravi Bopara too has been inconsistent with the bat, but the major concern for Kings XI would be the form of its Sri Lankan recruits skipper Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

Both Sangakkara and Jayawardene have so far done very little in the tournament and its high time for the duo to come up with performances to justify their star status in the team.

Devoid of any big names, the Punjab side bowling department did more than a decent job against a strong Chennai batting line-up in the last match.

A little-known South African pacer Juan Theron, making his IPL debut turned out to be Punjab’s bowling hero in the regulation time against Chennai.

And Lee’s return has further strengthened Kings XI bowling department which lacked the firepower up front.

Rajasthan Royals, on the other hand, finally clicked as a unit during their 34 runs victory over Kolkata Knight Riders last week.

The Jaipur-based team, which won the inaugural IPL in 2008, is a depleted outfit this year and mainly boasts of bits and pieces players.

In the absence of Australian Shane Watson, Rajasthan’s batting completely relies on big-hitting Yusuf Pathan who registered the first century on IPL 3 against Mumbai Indians in their tournament opener.

But overdependence seems to have affected Yusuf’s batting off late as he failed to make any significant impact with the bat after the ton.

But ICL-returnee Abhishek Jhunjhunwala has turned out to be the anchor of Rajasthan batting line-up with consistent performances and Adam Voges has been a valuable addition in the middle-order.

On the bowling front, Shaun Tait came up with a much-improved display against Kolkata and seemed to have learnt from his mistakes of spraying the ball all around the wicket.

However, Rajasthan’s main weapon would be the spin department as they rely heavily on slow bowling.

If not the bat, Pathan has proved his worth with his slow off-spinners that proved more than handy against Kolkata.

To help Rajasthan’s cause, captain Shane Warne seems to have found his mojo as he extracted drift and turn from the wicket against Kolkata to keep the batsmen on tenterhooks.(PTI)

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