Clash of two 'Royals' on the cards

Rajasthan Royals will be hoping to carry on the winning momentum in their encounter against Bangalore Royal Challengers on Saturday.

updated: April 25, 2008 09:53 IST
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Rajasthan Royals have torn apart their 'also-ran's' tag in the Indian Premier League (IPL) with two consecutive big wins and will be hoping to carry on the momentum in their next encounter against Bangalore Royal Challengers at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday.

Dubbed as the weakest team in the inaugural IPL, Rajasthan Royals certainly have been a revelation and flattened favourites like Kings XI Punjab and Deccan Chargers.

Led by charismatic and wily Shane Warne, the Jaipur outfit suddenly looks like a formidable side. They sunk without a trace in their first match against Delhi Daredevils. Many thought the nine-wicket thrashing handed by Daredevils would make Royals an easy prey for other teams.

But the next two matches witnessed a rejuvenated Royals' as their opponents who were licking their lips in anticipation of big wins against them fell flat on their face. Royals dispatched off a strong Kings XI team by six wickets. Warne himself played a crucial role and snared three wickets.

In their next outing, Royals came out determined to prove that the win against Kings XI was not a fluke and stunned star-studded Deccan Chargers by chasing down 215 in a thrilling match on Thursday.

After three matches, Royals, with two wins and one loss, occupy fourth place. Just behind them are Royal Challengers from Bangalore, who have one win and one loss under their belt.

The scripts for Royal Challengers have also gone on the similar lines. Rahul Dravid-led Challengers slumped to a big loss in their first match against Kolkata Knight Riders but came back remarkably against Mumbai Indians in the next match.

Mark Boucher hit a brilliant 39 and shared a crucial 55-run partnership with compatriot Jacques Kallis to post a five-wicket win for Royal Challengers.

Their top-order though still looks in bad shape, as Dravid has not been able to find his feet in this slam-bang format. However, Pakistani batsman Misbah-ul Haq, who joined the team on Thursday, will give a fillip to their middle-order.

The Royals, on the other hand, have gelled well and improved their performance with every match. With Graeme Smith joining them at the top of order and Yusuf Pathan, Shane Watson and Mohammad Kaif in good touch, Jaipur's batting line-up is now a force to reckon with.

Their bowling though is a matter of concern, as Munaf Patel and Siddharth Trivedi looked ordinary.

All in all, the match is billed as a 'blockbuster' and the spectators will be treated to some exciting cricket. But a thing everyone in the ground will miss is the much-talked about battle between two greats of spin bowling - Warne and Anil Kumble. The Indian Test skipper, who missed the Bangalore side's first two matches in the IPL, has not yet completely recovered from a groin strain and is unlikely to feature in the playing eleven.