Battle of Royals: Warne looks to set record straight

Having posted a record 211 in their previous match, Rajasthan will look to set the record straight against Bangalore.

updated: May 10, 2009 11:08 IST
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Having posted a record 211 in their previous encounter, a buoyant Rajasthan Royals will look to set the record straight against Royal Challengers Bangalore, who had humbled them in their opening match, in the Indian Premier League on Thursday.

The defending champions, who were steamrolled for a lowly 58 by Bangalore on the day the high-profile event kick-started, appear to be on their way up with emphatic wins over Deccan Chargers and Kings XI Punjab following a roller-coaster run of alternating wins and losses till last week.

The Shane Warne-led outfit has climbed to third sport after handing out a 78-run thrashing to Kings XI Punjab and it would have to make it three in a row so that their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals are not dented.

Rajasthan seem to be peaking at the right time with their form book boasting of a revived Graeme Smith, who hit a timely 77 on Tuesday. Greenhorns Naman Ojha (68 runs) and Amit Singh (3-9) also lived up to captain-coach Warne's expectation with their shining performances with bat and ball respectively in the win over Punjab.

Twenty20 World Cup-bound Ravindra Jadeja (33) also showed glimpses of what he is capable of after the team's hero of last year - opener Swapnil Asnodkar - failed to click on South African pitches.

The team would be eagerly awaiting their Australian recruit Shane Watson, who was the man of the tournament in the inaugural edition, to boost their prospects in the coming matches. Watson was on national duty against Pakistan in Dubai and Abu Dhabi until now.

Besides, the fans would be waiting to see what surprise Warne has up his sleeves to humble the resurgent Royal Challengers under veteran leg-spinner Anil Kumble's captaincy.

The Vijay Mallaya-owned team has emerged as a force to reckon with under Kumble remaining unbeaten in their last three matches. The performance is all the more creditable as their most expensive player Kevin Pietersen has left the team to join the national squad for a Test series against West Indies.

Rajasthan, placed fifth with four wins and four losses from eight matches they have played so far, are vying for a place in the last-four stage of the cash-rich tournament.

Although their batting and bowling doesn't boast of many big names after Pietersen's departure, the team did romp home riding on star all-rounder Jacques Kallis and Robin Uthappa's batting and Kumble's bowling in the previous match.

However, with the competition intensifying with each and every match, it is high time Wasim Jaffer and Virat Kohli also come to the team's aid.