Rajasthan Royals, buoyed by a home win against IPL champion Kolkata Knight Riders, will be in a good frame of mind for the third round face-off against Pune Warriors here on Thursday. PWI is struggling to understand its own strengths and after two defeats, has a rough road ahead.
Rahul Dravid, in-charge at RR, is tweaking the playing combination based on the assessment of the wicket. He chose to attack with five pacers in Jaipur and the KKR top-order cracked. PWI can expect another rude surprise on a wicket that is not batsman-friendly where the ball keeps low at times.
Royals can be expected to exploit the conditions just as Kings XI Punjab did the other day. Dravid’s bowlers have done a sterling job of defending twice so far.
Off-spinner Ajit Chandila, with a hat-trick against Pune in the IPL-V home tie under his belt, is among those waiting for an opportunity to shine. Dravid is known to back players much like Shane Warne who infused such confidence in youngsters Ravindra Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan to turn them into sensational players in the earlier years. Dravid has psychologist Paddy Upton, named head coach, to work with the players.
Relief for host
Pune captain Angelo Mathews will be hoping for divine help. Yuvraj Singh’s return, after skipping the previous game due to a strained back, is a relief.
According to coach Allan Donald, West Indies batting mainstay Marlon Samuels is on the injury list and Australian Aaron Finch is poised to take his place.
Yuvraj, without the pressures of captaincy, is capable of turning a match on its head. Mathews will expect a match-winning effort from him.
Royals won’t mind others stealing the attention, as long as they are able to dictate the flow. Dravid leads a team of quiet achievers, secure in the knowledge that T20 specialists Shane Watson, Brad Hodge and Kevon Cooper can show the way.