Down south, they suffered close defeats but their prospects are still headed northwards.
Now positioned in the upper section of the Pepsi IPL league table, Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad wouldn’t panic just yet. The two have won more than half the games they’ve played till now and similar success henceforth should earn them a place in the playoffs.
Though, arguably, RR would approach Saturday’s contest at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium here with greater anticipation.
Two consecutive defeats to Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings have slightly besmirched the joy of four wins in the first five matches.
However, having won all three games here, Rahul Dravid’s men should find comfort upon their return to the familiar environment of the SMS.
Success has been built at this venue by RR’s cohort of quick bowlers. Shane Watson’s return to bowling has boosted the group, whose most impressive performer has been his compatriot James Faulkner.
The 22-year-old wasn’t selected for his team’s first two games but has gone on to take 11 wickets in the five he has featured after that.
Being the only left-arm quick bowler in the playing eleven, Faulkner has reaped benefits from bowling at different angles with good pace.
RR’s batting has been dogged by greater inconsistency, but Shane Watson’s century against CSK on Monday would have eased Dravid’s worries.
SRH’s batsmen haven’t excelled much either. When Shikhar Dhawan made 63 in his side’s defeat to CSK on Thursday, he became only the second player after Cameron White to score a half-century for the Hyderabad team this season.
Replacing Kumar Sangakkara with Quinton de Kock hasn’t worked for SRH while the rest of the batting line-up continues to grope for consistency.
The team’s decision to promote Amit Mishra in the batting order against CSK didn’t serve it well. Positively, the visitors’ Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma are expected to pose a major threat under the bowler-friendly conditions here.
The tournament’s joint-highest wicket-taker Mishra will also feature prominently in the hunt for wickets while another leggie Karan Sharma would aim to replicate last match’s parsimonious display.