Rajasthan Royals need to guard against complacency when they take on Pune Warriors on Sunday, two days after their emphatic seven-wicket victory over Mumbai Indians.
Return to the Sawai Mansingh Stadium has proved fruitful for the Royals, with two successive wins coming against Kochi Tuskers and the Mumbai team after a string of losses in the away games. Shane Warne, though, still needs to keep his feet firmly on the ground to make it three in a row.
Warriors, on the other hand, have found the going tough, losing their last five matches. The Yuvraj Singh-led side hardly has any time to recover from their 26-run loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday.
However, the conditions here could just even out the contest, with the pitch offering a lot more to the spinners. Variable bounce has troubled most batsmen with the exception of Johan Botha, who has been the most consistent in the Royals’ lineup.
Skipper Warne, Ashok Menaria and Botha were at their best with the ball against Mumbai, but this time around, they will have competition from the likes of Yuvraj, leggie Rahul Sharma and Murali Kartik. Pune may also draft in all-rounder Nathan McCullum to bolster their attack.
On the batting front, the Warriors haven’t fired in unison, which has often left Yuvraj with too much to do. Jesse Ryder, Robin Uthappa and Mohnish Mishra need to prolong their stay in the middle to put Royals under pressure. Mithun Manhas’ inconsistency has further complicated matters for the Warriors.
Unlike the visitors, the Royals look a more settled unit after some weird experimentation at the start of the competition. Shane Watson and Rahul Dravid look a formidable opening pair on the sluggish SMS track, with Botha, Menaria and Ross Taylor shielding the middle-order.
However, Royals do lack an explosive hitter in their ranks, but to their advantage they haven’t been pushed in any of the run chases, barring the one against Kings XI Punjab, where they faltered in pursuit of a mammoth 195-7.
Rajasthan Royals: Shane Warne (C), Swapnil Asnodkar, Stuart Binny, Johan Botha, Deepak Chahar, Ankeet Chavan, Aakash Chopra, Aditya Dole, Nayan Doshi, Rahul Dravid, Samad Fallah, Faiz Fazal, Ashok Menaria, Sumit Narwal, Jacob Oram, Pankaj Singh, Amit Paunikar, Ajinkya Rahane, Abhishek Raut, Dinesh Salunkhe, Pinal Shah, Amit Singh, Shaun Tait, Ross Taylor, Siddharth Trivedi, Shane Watson and Dishant Harendra Yagnik.
Pune Warriors: Yuvraj Singh (C), Robin Uthappa (wk), Murali Kartik, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Dheeraj Jadhav, Eklavya Dwivedi, Ganesh Gaikwad, Harpreet Singh Bhatia, Harshad Khadiwale, Kamran Khan, Mithun Manhas, Mohnish Mishra, Rahul Sharma, Sachin Rana, Shrikant Wagh, Shrikant Mundhe, Imtiyaz Ahmed, Jesse Ryder, Graeme Smith, Wayne Parnell, Alphonso Thomas, Tim Paine, Callum Ferguson, Mitchell Marsh, Jerome Taylor, James Faulkner.