Ahmedabad: Up against an outfit that is struggling to stay afloat, fancied Rajasthan Royals will look to consolidate their position in the pecking order when they lock horns with Sunrisers Hyderabad in the ongoing seventh Indian Premier League (IPL) here on Thursday.
Rajasthan Royals staged a dramatic fightback to down Kolkata Knight Riders by 10 runs in their last match, while Sunrisers Hyderabad were overshadowed by Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Led by inspiring Australian all-rounder Shane Watson, Rajasthan are placed third in the points table with five wins and two reverses, while the Southern team is struggling to keep their chances alive in the competition having already suffered four defeats in six games to be placed seventh in the eight-team cash-rich tournament.
Watson has always been the key man in the RR set-up and it will be no different this time around. The Aussie, who struck a 20-ball 31 to go with his 3/21 with the ball, will look to do better with the willow at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera.
Young Karun Nair has shown promise at the top of the order and RR can expect a lot from him. Ajinkya Rahane has been fairly consistent and he would look to continue in same vein.
For the opposition bowlers, there is also the talented Sanju Samson and Steven Smith. It may be noted that their top four batsmen made significant contributions in the come-from-behind win over KKR.
42-year-old leg-spinner Pravin Tambe continues to catch attention with his impressive performance, the last coming against KKR.
Even with the ball, Watson always wants to there at the thick of things. Tim Southee and James Faulkner are the other two specialist bowlers for Rajasthan. Their bowlers showed a lot of character when they stopped KKR, who were at one stage cruising along at 121 for one, to reducing them to 123 for six and eventually running away with the game.
As far as Sunrisers Hyderabad are concerned, skipper Shikhar Dhawan will need to lead from the front. A good start is of paramount importance in this form of the game, and Dhawan knows it too well. He has the aggressive Aaron Finch for company and if the duo gets going, it will be ominous for the opposition.
The in-form David Warner lends muscle to the middle-order, with all-rounder Darren Sammy following him in the batting order. Pace spearhead Dale Steyn will lead the attack with the Indian duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma playing the support cast. Sammy and Irfan Pathan are the other two medium pacers, while Karn Sharma will shoulder the responsibility in the spin department.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Shikhar Dhawan (c), Dale Steyn, David Warner, Darren Sammy, Amit Mishra, Aaron Finch, Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Brendan Taylor, Moises Henriques, Venugopala Rao, Jason Holder, S Aniruddha, Manprit Juneja, KL Rahul, Amit Paunikar, Naman Ojha, Ricky Bhui, Ashish Reddy, Chama Milind, Parveez Rasool, Prashanth Parameshwaran, Karn Sharma.
Rajasthan Royals: Shane Watson (c), Ajinkya Rahane, James Faulkner, Stuart Binny, Sanju Samson, Brad Hodge, Steven Smith, Abhishek Nayar, Ben Cutting, Kane Richardson, Tim Southee, Unmukt Chand, Ankush Bains, Vikramjeet Malik, Rahul Tewatia, Ankit Sharma, Amit Mishra, Deepak Hooda, Rajat Bhatia, Kevon Cooper, Iqbal Abdulla, Dhawal Kulkarni, Pravin Tambe, Karun Nair, Dishant Yagnik.