The Hyderabad side, however, has the potential to impose itself on any opponent
Rajasthan Royals will look to firm up its position in the top four when it locks horns with Sunrisers Hyderabad in its second ‘home’ match at Motera on Thursday.
Pravin Tambe came up with a game-changing hat-trick after Shane Watson triggered a top-order collapse, scalping Kolkata Knight Riders’ Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir and Andre Russell in the 15th over during the run chase of 171, as the Royals scored a stunning victory.
The 10-run loss surprised even a seasoned campaigner like Gambhir, who said he has not seen this “kind of cricket” — a collapse from 121 for no loss to 123 for six — during his career. Rahul Dravid, too, concurred with him on this.
It was a heart-breaking contest for the Knight Riders on Monday, but a happy start for the Royals which shifted its home venue from Jaipur to the dust-bowl here.
Royals captain Shane Watson did not want to speculate on his team’s chances of making the play-offs at this stage of the competition.
Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab are sitting pretty at the top ahead of Royals, Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Watson said, “we are nicely placed at the moment. But, in the end, the results are not exactly what we were focussing on. We were focused on getting the simple things right as much as we can and continue to learn and develop right throughout the tournament.
“The most important thing is we are getting better and learning. Paddy (Upton) and Rahul (Dravid) have been incredible while giving us the plans we need in every game.”
‘Don’t count us out’
Royals’ opponent, Sunrisers Hyderabad, is down in the dumps, but mentor Krishnamachari Srikkanth does not want to count his team out in the race for a play-off berth.
“It’s a must-win game, and our team is buoyant and confident of winning matches and making it to the play-offs,” said the former India captain and chairman of selectors Srikkanth. With the likes of David Warner, Shikhar Dhawan and Aaron Finch in its ranks, Sunrisers Hyderabad has the potential to impose itself on any opponent.
The bowling department, too, looks healthy, given the presence of speedster Dale Steyn, the fast-improving Bhuvneshwar Kumar and quality leg-spinners like Amit Mishra and Karn Sharma.
“Bhuvneshwar is fantastic. He does not need the conditions or the wicket,” said Srikkanth, highlighting the strength of his bowling attack.