A more balanced Rajasthan Royals side would look to strengthen its position in the clogged points table when it takes on struggling hosts Pune Warriors in an Indian Premier League match, here tomorrow.
The Sourav Ganguly-led Pune have lost five of their last six clashes although the defeat margins in the last two have been just one and seven runs. The last time they won was on April 21 when they got the better of formidable Delhi Daredevils.
Rajasthan too had been struggling until they crushed Kings XI Punjab by 43 runs on May 5. Before that win, they too had lost three matches on the trot. With the coming of all-rounder Shane Watson and pacer Shaun Tait, Rajasthan have got the balance in both bowling and batting.
With skipper Rahul Dravid and young gun Ajinkya Rahane doing well at the top and the middle order too responding, batting has not been much of a problem for them. But they have failed in conquering tight matches.
Pune too have lost close matches and their morale have taken a beating with five defeats in a row.
Rajasthan would look to pile on the misery of the hosts. Pune were hoping that the addition of Michael Clarke in their ranks would give a boost to their batting but the Australian skipper is yet to fire. In three matches he has scored 56 runs, out of which 41 came in one match.
They have struggled as a batting unit as young Indian players Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey and Mithun Manhas have failed to make an impact. Their foreign imports too have not clicked in a way the team had hoped them to. The only saving grace is the bowling of pace duo Angelo Mathews and Wayne Parnell.
Pune are languishing at the eighth position and will have to win all their remaining four matches to be in contention for play-offs berth.
Rajasthan are at number six and can challenge Royal Challengers Bangalore and defending champions Chennai Spuer Kings for a place in the play-offs if they come up with good shows in their remaining five matches.
Pune Warriors: Sourav Ganguly (C), Eklavya Dwivedi, Michael Clarke, Ashok Dinda, Callum Ferguson, Raiphi Gomez, Harpreet Singh, Dheeraj Jadhav, Kamran Khan, Murali Kartik, Harshad Khadiwale, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Nathan McCullum, Anustup Majumdar, Mithun Manhas, Angelo Mathews, Mohnish Mishra, Ali Murtaza, Ashish Nehra, Manish Pandey, Wayne Parnell, Sachin Rana, Jesse Ryder, Marlon Samuels, Rahul Sharma, Steven Smith, Tamim Iqbal, Alfonso Thomas, Krishnakant Upadhyay, Robin Uthappa, Shrikant Wagh and Luke Wright.
Rajasthan Royal: Rahul Dravid (C), Stuart Binny, Johan Botha, Deepak Chahar, Ajit Chandila, Dinesh Chandimal, Ankeet Chavan, Aakash Chopra, Paul Collingwood, Aditya Dole, Samad Fallah, Faiz Fazal, Shreevats Goswami, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Ashok Menaria, Sumit Narwal, Pankaj Singh, Amit Paunikar, Ajinkya Rahane, Abhishek Raut, Owais Shah, Pinal Shah, Amit Singh, Shaun Tait, Siddharth Trivedi, Shane Watson and Dishant Yagnik.