Placed in the bottom heap of the points table, Rajasthan Royals and Deccan Chargers will be fighting a desperate battle of survival when they take on each other in the Indian Premier League here on Monday.
Their semifinal hopes fading, neither Rajasthan nor Deccan cannot afford to lose from here on.
Deccan have lost four matches on the trot and the downward spiral was incidentally triggered by the defeat against Rajasthan on March 26.
Rajasthan, on the other hand, were on a four-match winning streak before losing two successive games to lie sixth on the table, a rung ahead of Deccan.
Rajasthan, however, have been bolstered by the joining in of Australian import Shane Watson.
The all-rounder, who was the IPL’s most valuable player in the inaugural year, played out a blazing 60-run knock in his first match of the ongoing season.
Although for a losing cause, his batting last night against the Chennai Super Kings showed how much he added to Rajasthan’s rather brittle line-up, which has been relying too much on another all-rounder Yusuf Pathan’s power-hitting.
On the bowling front, the pacers — especially Shaun Tait — have come a cropper as was proved by the thrashing that Chennai Super Kings handed out to them on Saturday night.
Skipper Shane Warne hasn’t managed to bowl as well as he would have liked. The legendary spinner has taken just one wicket in four matches at an average of 90. He is currently at the bottom of the bowlers’ chart for this season.
Led by Warne’s former teammate Adam Gilchrist, Deccan Chargers, on the other hand, have been undone by their batting, which has been relying too heavily on the skipper.
The dip in Gilchrist’s form is reflecting in the team’s performance as well and though Andrew Symonds is doing reasonably well, the failure of the likes of Herschelle Gibbs and the inconsistency of Rohit Sharma is proving costly for the side time and again.
Deccan’s bowling was never their strength and once the batsmen fail, they too fail to contain or dismiss the opponents.
Pacer RP Singh has been off-colour and old war horse Chaminda Vaas is not the threat he used to be in his prime.
The team compositions make Rajasthan a favourite yet again but if Gilchrist strikes form, Deccan might extract revenge for the previous loss.