Rajasthan Royals v Kings XI Punjab (watch it here live for free)- follow the thread for regular updates
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Kings XI Punjab and the Rajasthan Royals are both looking to open their account in the IPL after coming up second-best in Saturday’s matches. Punjab were undone at home by the brilliance of Michael Hussey but their abundance of riches means they are overwhelming favourites to win in Jaipur. Rajasthan, on the other hand, are enduring a frustrating wait for five of their foreign recruits. To add to their problems their less established players are not showing the mettle required to survive in this cut-throat competition, as was evident during their nine-wicket thrashing by the Delhi Daredevils.
Punjab taking the early running, regardless of the outcome of the toss. If they bat first , they have the versatile James Hopes to give their innings a lift-off. With Kumar Sangakkara slated to walk in at No. 3, and captain Yuvraj Singh to follow, Rajasthan’s boundary riders are in for some hard work. Punjab’s opening bowlers, Brett Lee and Sreesanth, did not pose too many problems for the Chennai Super Kings, but they will be an entirely different proposition for Rajasthan. With Hopes and Irfan Pathan to follow-up, the going might just get tougher. An intriguing sub-plot to the contest will be a potential face-off between Irfan and his half-brother Yusuf, an aggressive presence in Rajasthan’s top order.
Meanwhile, Rajasthan will be eager to prove the critics wrong. They will be looking to Shane Watson and Darren Lehmann, and to Ravindra Jadeja and Dinesh Salunke, both of whom gave a good account of themselves in Delhi, to bring out the big hits. Mohammad Kaif may be a livewire in the field, but he needs to come good with the bat to have a real impact on the contest. Not many players will be queueing up to take the place of seamers Munaf Patel and Siddharth Trivedi, both of whom face a huge test with the ball.
Punjab’s line-up looks pretty settled and the only question of interest will be whether Mahela Jayawardene gets a game. With each team having a cap on four foreign players, the axe could fall on Simon Katich. Ramesh Powar may replace seamer Wilkin Mota if there is something in the pitch for the spinners, and Pankaj Dharmani can consider himself unfortunate if he misses out as he is yet to bat.
Rajasthan, more due to circumstance than choice, will be forced to retain most of the team that played in Delhi. Graeme Smith may not be back from South Africa in time for the encounter, while Dimitri Mascarenhas, the England allrounder, will only be with the team for two weeks starting as late as May 12. The Pakistan trio – Younis Khan, Kamran Akmal, and Sohail Tanvir, will fly to India on the day of the match after completing their Twenty20 international against Bangladesh on Sunday, and it is highly unlikely that any of them will play.
The home side struggled to get a move on at the beginning of their innings in the first match, and may draft in Niraj Patel, who averages 50 at a strike-rate of 132.74 from eight domestic Twenty20s, in place of Taruwar Kohli. Jaydev Shah possesses an equally impressive strike-rate of 159.25 in four matches, and he also may get a look-in.