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Royals face a Herculean task against Hyderabad

Hit by the recent spot-fixing scandal, the Rajasthan Royals will have to come out strong to take on the impressive Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League (IPL) eliminator to be played at the Feroz Shah Kotla today.

The Royals and the Sunrisers, who finished third and fourth respectively in the standings, will be vying for the Qualifier Two spot where they will meet the loser of the first Qualifier between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings.


Shane Watson and Shikhar Dhawan

Shaken and stirred, the Jaipur-based Rajasthan Royals are making their first playoff appearance since the inaugural season of 2008 when they emerged champions.

The past four seasons, the Royals have failed to replicate their 2008 performance but the Rahul Dravid-led side has finally come full circle this season.

Shane Watson has been the most influential player for the Royals, winning them several matches. Skipper Dravid and opener Ajinkya Rahane have also provided excellent starts to the team.

However, their bowling has suffered a setback after pacer S Sreesanth and spinners Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila were caught by Delhi Police on spot-fixing charges.

On the other hand, it has been one upswing ride for debutants Sunrisers Hyderabad.

The return of Shikhar Dhawan has boosted the batting of the side which pipped the Royal Challengers Bangalore to enter the playoffs.

The Sunrisers’ real strength lies in their bowling, which is power-packed by the best pacer of the times Dale Steyn and complimented ably by Ishant Sharma.

The duo has not just struck for the team when needed but also kept the run-rate in check.

The pacers are backed by leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who also has been vital for the Sunrisers' success this season.

Both teams, with 10 wins each from 16 matches were separated only by net run-rate and have been peerless at home. Rajasthan did not lose a match at Jaipur.

Having said that, the momentum could be with Hyderabad, who have won their last two matches while the scandal-hit Royals have lost their last two away games and now play with a distressed and a depleted side.

Dravid’s wishlist
>> Watson plays a blinder.
>> Ajinkya Rahane anchors the innings.
>> Brad Hodge plays a cameo.
>> Faulkner removes Dhawan cheaply.
>> Team comes out of the recent controversy.

White’s wishlist
>> Dhawan converts start into a big score.
>> Parthiv Patel shows consistency.
>> Dale Steyn removes Watson early.
>> Mishra bowls miserly.
>> Darren Sammy chips in with bat and ball.

When they last met... Sunrisers outplayed Royals
Sunrisers Hyderabad will go into the Eliminator with fond memories against Rajasthan Royals as they outplayed the former champions at home on May 17. Batting first, SRH got off to a bad start, losing three wickets for five runs. However, they found an unlikely hero in Biplab Samantray (55) who gave the hosts something to fight for. Bowling, which has been the strength of Sunrisers, rose to the occasion yet again and restricted the visitors to
a mere 113.

BRIEF SCORES: Sunrisers Hyderabad 136 for 9 (Biplab Samantray 55, James Faulkner 5-16) beat Rajasthan Royals 113 for 9 (Amit Mishra 2-8, Dale Steyn 2-17) by 23 runs
 

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