Rajasthan Royals have all but secured their place for the playoffs with five wins out of seven games. Sunrisers Hyderabad, on the other hand, have won just two out of six and have to win if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Venue: Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera, Ahmedabad
Date: Thursday, May 8
Start time: 3:30 a.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) and Starhub (Singapore).
Weather: AccuWeather puts the forecast for the day at 41 degrees Celsius. There's no chance of rain or thunderstorms and temperatures should start dropping a little bit by 7 p.m. local time.
Rajasthan Royals have been one of the surprise packages of the tournament. They do not have the biggest names, but they have performed beyond expectations.
In contrast, with all their star power, Hyderabad have been a massive disappointment.
The two teams met in their opening fixture this year. Rajasthan walked away with a four-wicket win. The Royals have won four games on the bounce while Hyderabad have managed wins in two of their last four games.
Rajasthan's success has been down to a mix of individual consistency from players like Ajinkya Rahane, moments of brilliance including a hat-trick by Pravin Tambe, sprinkled with some solid bowling by players like James Faulkner.
Faulkner has been the man tasked with bowling at the death for Rajasthan. He has been quite impressive. In their most recent win over Kolkata Knight Riders, Faulkner bowled one of the overs to help his side defend 24 runs off 12 balls, conceding just seven.
In an interview with IPLT20.com, he admitted that he enjoys the role:
It is my job and I’ll be disappointed if I cannot execute it; and there will be days when that will happen. But the feeling that you get on the days when you manage to execute it and see the winning faces of your teammates, it is worth it. We will enjoy tonight and then I will have to restart my batteries for the next match to do the same.
Rajasthan have had plenty of moments to enjoy this IPL and will probably earn themselves another one against Hyderabad on Thursday. The Sunrisers simply haven't clicked. With the Royals having their tails up, it will take something really special to beat them.
Shane Watson has been a reliable all-round performer for his team. He's performed aptly with the bat, having accumulated 164 runs in seven matches. He also has four wickets, but it's his average of 17.00 and economy rate of 6.18 that's been most impressive.
Watson has also been captaining the side astutely. His influence will be key against the Sunrisers.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has picked up two wickets in each of the last three games he has played in.
He has been a dependable go-to bowler for Sunrisers and tops the list of wicket-takers with 10 wickets at an average of just 13.60.
He'll need to be at his best if the Sunrisers have any hope of toppling Rajasthan on Thursday.
Shane Watson (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Brad Hodge, Sanju Samson, Stuart Binny, Ankush Bains, James Faulkner, Pravin Tambe, Kevon Cooper, Unmukt Chand, Steven Smith, Ben Cutting, Deepak Hooda, Iqbal Abdullah, Karun Nair, Vikramjeet Malik, Abhishek Nayar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Kane Richardson, Dishant Yagnik (wk), Tim Southee, Rahul Tewatia, Ankit Sharma, Amit Mishra
Shikhar Dhawan (capt), Amit Mishra, Irfan Pathan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Naman Ojha, Karan Sharma, Parvez Rasool, KL Rahul, Venugopal Rao, S Anirudha, Manpreet Juneja, Ricky Bhui, Amit Paunikar, P Parameswaran, Ashish Reddy, Chama Milind, Dale Steyn, Darren Sammy, David Warner, Aaron Finch, Moises Henriques, Jason Holder, Brendan Taylor
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