With two wins and two losses apiece, Rajasthan Royals take on Kolkata Knight Riders on Tuesday, hoping to close the gap on Indian Premier League (IPL) leaders Kings XI Punjab.
Venue: Abu Dhabi
Date: April 29, 2014
Start time: 3:30 p.m. BST
Live on: Sony Six, Star Sports HD, Star Sports 1 (India), ITV4 (United Kingdom), SuperSport (South Africa), OSN (UAE) SkyTV (New Zealand), Network Ten (Australia), Channel 9 (Bangladesh), Sportsnet and Omni (Canada), Sports Max (West Indies), Geo Super (Pakistan), Starhub (Singapore).
Weather: It will be dry, bright and sunny in Abu Dhabi according to weather.com with temperatures reaching 38C. A breeze of 15mph should provide some respite.
It's been a frustrating start to the IPL for the Rajasthan Royals. Shane Watson's side followed a tight win over Hyderabad in their opening match with disappointing defeats against Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the Royals then put in a spectacular shift with the ball to skittle Royal Challengers Bangalore for a paltry 70.
Bowling has indeed been the stronger suit for the Royals this year. The attack has performed admirably in three of their four matches to date. The only blemish thus far being a savage assault from Glenn Maxwell and David Miller.
The wickets have been shared around with Rajat Bhatia and Aussie Kane Richardson the pick of the seamers. They have been ably supported by veteran leggie Pravin Tambe, who also has five victims to his name.
The batting has been a little more sketchy. Shane Watson, Sanju Samson and Ajinkya Rahane have all recorded half-centuries, but nobody has gone on to make a biggie.
Royals fans will certainly be hoping for more from the top of the order. With a best opening partnership of 31 there's plenty of room for improvement.
Like Rajasthan, Kolkata have been a model on inconsistency this year. After a 41-run triumph over Mumbai, the Knight Riders were crushed by a JP Duminy-inspired Delhi.
Chris Lynn's remarkable catch to dismiss AB De Villiers sealed victory over Bangalore, but a hefty defeat followed days later.
Needing just 133 to beat Punjab, Kolkata were dismissed for just 109 with only three players reaching double figures.
Like their opponents, bowling has been the stronger discipline for Kolkata.
With nine wickets at an average of 8.77 and an economy rate of 4.93 Sunil Narine has been the pick. The West Indian spinner has received strong support from Piyush Chawla, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel and R Vinay Kumar.
If the Kolkata bowling line-up is looking one of the best in this year's IPL, questions remain with the bat. The top order has shown flashes of brilliance without really exploding. And surely things can only get better for the hapless Gautam Gambhir, who has managed just a single run in four outings.
One final note to consider is Rajasthan's form in Abu Dhabi. Both of the Royals' 2014 IPL victories have come at the ground.
Rajasthan Royals (from): Shane Watson (capt), Brad Hodge, Unmukt Chand, Karun Nair, Ajinkya Rahane, Steven Smith, Rajat Bhatia, Abhishek Nayar, Ben Cutting, Kevon Cooper, Stuart Binny, James Faulkner, Dishant Yagnik, Ankush Bains, Sanju Samson, Iqbal Abdulla, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tewatia, Ankit Sharma, Pravin Tambe, Tim Southee, Dhaval Kulkarni, Kane Richardson, Vikramjeet Malik, Amit Mishra
Kolkata Knight Riders (from): Gautam Gambhir (capt), Manvinder Bisla, Piyush Chawla, Pat Cummins, Debabrata Das, Jacques Kallis, Kuldeep Yadav, Chris Lynn, Sayan Mondal, Morne Morkel, Sunil Narine, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Veer Pratap Singh, Andre Russell, Shakib Al Hasan, Ryan ten Doeschate, Robin Uthappa, Vinay Kumar, Suryakumar Yadav
The Trinidadian spinner certainly enjoys playing in Abu Dhabi. Narine has taken seven wickets for just 44 runs in his two most recent outings at Sheikh Zayed Stadium. A similar effort on Tuesday will go a long way toward a Kolkata win.
With the Abu Dhabi pitch expected to turn the performance of the spinners looks set to be crucial. Pravin Tambe collected four wickets at a cost of just 20 in his last performance at the ground. The 42-year-old is showing the young'uns a thing or two as the competition progresses and will be hopeful of more success next time out.
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