Rajasthan captain Shane Warne says he’s wary of the rejuvenated Knight Riders ahead of their clash in Durban.
Injuries and the absence of key players have affected the Royals’ progress this season. They have won six of their 13 matches with an equal number of defeats against their name.
With 13 points, they need victory against the Knight Riders to brighten their prospects of a semi-final. But they would still have to depend on other results.
The Knight Riders, who are out of the play-off reckoning, would love to play spoilsport and finish their 2009 campaign on a high after a disastrous run that saw them lose eight successive matches.
Captain Brendon McCullum’s good form with the bat ought to be another piece of worrying news for Warne, who himself is struggling with a hamstring injury.
The Rajasthan Royals will depend on Graeme Smith and Yusuf Pathan to put up some big runs. Smith who has had an inconsistent tournament so far would be keen to set things right. Yusuf is just waiting for an attack to pulverise and the game against the Knight Riders might just offer him that opportunity.
South Africans seem to like an underdog, and so the Knight Riders can expect a lot of support in their last IPL match to be played in Durban. Their last-ball victory over the Super Kings to score 189-3 to win came from great innings by McCullum, who scored 81 from 48 balls, including 11 fours and three sixes, and Brad Hodge, who smashed 71 from 44 deliveries, and hit four fours and four sixes.
‘The irony is,’ said McCullum, ‘it was our worst fielding and bowling performance we have put in for the whole tournament. I guess them scoring almost 190 kind of allowed us to play freely that we couldn’t stop. I think that is part and parcel of a good start. Try and get our run-rate up so that we could try and keep things in check as we headed into the last five or six overs. And as it worked out it was near to a perfect run chase.
‘It’s been a hell of a ride, the last three or four weeks. We have got ourselves into situations where we thought we couldn’t lose games. And we managed to come up short. Even when six off six were needed there were parts of me which were thinking that once again we might fall short of the line.’
Warne’s Royals will need to lift themselves up after their narrow loss to the Delhi Daredevils in Bloemfontein with their top order needing
to give the Royals a steady platform. They collapsed against the Daredevils, and will need to post a big score to move their negative average run-rate closer to the positive side of the line as it may come down to that.