JAIPUR: Their semi-final hopes are all but over despite the thumping win against Kolkata Knight Riders but Kings XI Punjab would continue to play for pride and dent Rajasthan Royals’ chances when the two sides clash in the Indian Premier League on Wednesday.
The much-needed win over Kolkata has come as a major confidence-booster for the beleaguered team, which had also been under intense media glare over speculated infighting.
Reports that their icon player Yuvraj Singh was disgruntled at being replaced as captain by Kumar Sangakkara only added to their woes.
Given the scenario, the win against Kolkata came at just the right time for the struggling outfit, which has lost seven of its nine matches.
Inaugural champions Rajasthan Royals, on the other hand, have bounced back rather well with a thrilling two-run win over Deccan Chargers after facing defeats in two consecutive matches.
Apart from the win, the return to form of skipper Shane Warne, who had just two wickets under his belt this season before last night, was a major gain from the match.
Warne picked four wickets to run the match on its head and help Rajasthan walk away winners by a mere two runs.
With five wins and an equal number of losses, Rajasthan are currently fourth on the points table and in contention for a place in the semis.
Australian Shane Watson’s joining of the squad has added the spark to the batting line up, which had been relying too heavily on Yusuf Pathan earlier.
The imposing all-rounder has been destructive with the bat although his bowling hasn’t yet made much of an impression.
Punjab, on the other hand, finally got over losses by beating Kolkata. Chasing a mammoth 200-plus target, Punjab were steered by a blazing hundred by the so far out of form Mahela Jayawardene.
Yuvraj has also rediscovered some of his lost touch but the bowling remains a worry for the side as was quite apparent from the over 200 runs they conceded against Kolkata.
After a poor start, the Royals have made themselves firm contenders for a semi-finals spot based on their recent form.
But for Punjab, matches from here on would be about salvaging some of the lost pride and finish the season on a somewhat positive note after the disastrous past few weeks.(PTI)