The most important news for Rajasthan Royals is that Shane Watson will be available for their home match against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Friday. Ditto for KKR, who will have Brett Lee, Brad Haddin and Shakib-al Hasan. However, the question that remains is whether these players will actually play or not.
On the eve of the match, both teams kept their cards close to their chest. The final team will be decided only on Friday morning. KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir will be looking for consistency while his Royals counterpart will be hoping to carry on with the momentum. Both teams had strenuous workout sessions at the RCA Academy on Thursday afternoon.
Refusing to get carried away with their victory over Deccan Chargers, Gambhir said there was still a long way to go in the fourth edition of the IPL. After their narrow loss to Chennai Super Kings in their tournament opener, KKR bounced back in their first home game at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Monday, securing a nine-run victory to log their first points in the tournament.
An upbeat Gambhir said, “It’s a great challenge to lead a team like KKR.” Commenting on Friday’s contest, the KKR skipper said the team is ready to take on Royals. “The good news for us is that Brett Lee is available.” KKR can also rely on left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla, who scalped three wickets for 24 runs to play a major role in his side’s win at the Eden.
When it comes to batting, KKR will depend a lot on veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis, the explosive Yusuf Pathan and the intelligent Manoj Tiwari to put up a solid show. Apart from Gambhir and Yusuf, some of the domestic players to watch out for will be former Bengal captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla, seamers L Balaji and Pradeep Sangwan.
With Sourav Ganguly no longer a part of the team, it will be a big challenge for Gambhir and his boys to get the fans rooting for them. “Hopefully, we will play some good cricket tomorrow,” Gambhir said.
Asked how the team feels having to play against Shane Watson, who single-handedly demolished Bangladesh with 15 fours and as many sixes en route to his unbeaten 185 in the second ODI, Gambhir said, “Twenty20 is a different ball game. Sometimes you can justify your moves, sometimes they backfire.”
On paper, Rajasthan Royals have better credentials with a top-order that boasts of Ross Taylor, Johan Botha, Rahul Dravid, Ashok Menaria and now Watson. Royals have two victories under their belt and are high on confidence. They have got their combination right too, with Botha clicking at No 3. Warne is, of course, a major factor. A clever tactician, he has a reputation of getting the best out of his bowlers and the likes of Shaun Tait, Amit Singh and Siddharth Trivedi have responded well.
“The conditions for fast bowling are always challenging in India. And tomorrow’s match will be another challenge for me,” Tait stated.