In terms of putting their limited resources to best use, there can't be a more tactful team than Rajasthan Royals.
They may not have the big impact players like Chris Gayle or Kieron Pollard, but Rahul Dravid, their captain, proved in the team's opening Indian Premier League 2013 game that star power alone doesn't guarantee victory. Dravid showed he still had enough hunger in him when he became the second-oldest cricketer to score a half-century in the Indian Premier League, in the process inspiring Rajasthan to victory over Delhi Daredevils. It is this confidence Rajasthan would look to carry forward when they clash against Kolkata Knight Riders, also coming off a fine win against Delhi, at Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur on Monday (April 8).
The Rajasthan team management would have breathed a sigh of relief that Dravid, who didn't field in that game due to a calf injury, has been declared fit, while the team will also be boosted by the availability of Shane Watson, the Australian allrounder, who in all likelihood will be drafted into the playing XI straightaway. Dravid had earlier hinted that Watson would bowl at some stage in the tournament, but it is likely that he will play as a specialist batsman for the moment. Watson's inclusion would mean Kusal Perera, the Sri Lankan wicketkeeper-batsman, may have to sit out.
Among the Indian players, the team management would take heart from the form displayed by Stuart Binny, the Karnataka allrounder, whose promotion in the batting order proved to be a masterstroke as he smashed a 20-ball 40 to bring some power-hitting into the Rajasthan effort.
However, the Rajasthan batting unit, as a whole, will have to guard against the threat of Sunil Narine, who foxed Delhi once again with his canny variations.
The bowling unit, which was perceived as the weaker suit for Rajasthan, proved more than a handful against Delhi, with S Sreesanth leading the pack. He bowled with purpose and troubled the batsmen with late swing in both directions, while Kevon Cooper's contribution at the death turned the game around. With the pitch in Jaipur still untested, seeing that this will the first game at the venue, it is unlikely Rajasthan will tinker with the line-up.
Kolkata, meanwhile, would have had their batteries fully charged following a four-day break in the lead-up to the match. The bowling unit, led by Brett Lee and Narine, and a strong showing from Rajat Bhatia, showed its class by skittling Delhi out cheaply before the batsmen went about the modest run chase in clinical manner.
At the forefront of the chase was Gautam Gambhir, the captain, who struck form with an attractive 41 to set the tone. Brendon McCullum's unavailability due to a hamstring injury means Kolkata will rely on Jacques Kallis, as they always have, to provide steel up front.
Even though the lower-order batsmen didn't spend too much time in the middle, the form displayed by the likes of Eoin Morgan and Manoj Tiwary was enough indication that the Kolkata batting is well oiled.
Kolkata have also been served well by the fringe players like Bhatia, Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Manvinder Bisla, who've chipped in with handy contributions time and again.
With the curator promising a belter of a pitch, what could have a bearing on the outcome of the game is the toss, given there has been a fair amount of dew at night.
Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Shane Watson, Ajit Chandila, Ankeet Chavan, Ashok Menaria, Brad Hogg, Brad Hodge, Dishant Yagnik, Fidel Edwards, Harmeet Singh, James Faulkner, Kevon Cooper, Kumar Boresha, Kusal Perera, Owais Shah, Pravin Tambe, Rahul Shukla, S Sreesanth, Sachin Baby, Samuel Badree, Sanju Samson, Shaun Tait, Sreevats Goswami, Siddharth Trivedi, Stuart Binny, Vikramjeet Malik.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (capt), Brett Lee, Brad Haddin, Debabrata Das, Eoin Morgan, Iqbal Abdulla, Jacques Kallis, Laxmipathy Balaji, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Manoj Tiwary, Manvinder Bisla, Shami Ahmed, Pradeep Sangwan, Rajat Bhatia, Ryan McLaren, Ryan ten Doeschate, Sachitra Senanayake, Sarabjit Ladda, Sunil Narine, Yusuf Pathan.
Story first published on: Sunday, 07 April 2013 22:35 IST