IPL 2018: Ajinkya Rahane and Kane Williamson ready for royal battle in Hyderabad
However, they could find solace in the fact that Rajasthan's skipper Steve Smith was a casualty of the same sandpaper gate scandal in Cape Town
Ajinkya Rahane and Kane Williamson
Like an adolescent entering adulthood, Sunrisers Hyderabad will finally have their chance to step into the real world without their suspended captain David Warner when they take on Rajasthan Royals at home. However, they could find solace in the fact that Rajasthan's skipper Steve Smith was a casualty of the same sandpaper gate scandal in Cape Town. Replacing Warner and Smith will be Kane Williamson and Ajinkya Rahane, both astute leaders in their own right but neither your archetypal T20 power-hitter. Their strike-rates will be under the scanner as much as their captaincy.
Rajasthan, who are coming off a two-year suspension have stocked up their squad with powerful strikers like Ben Stokes and Jos Butter to compliment Rahane's measured approach, whereas Sunrisers remain a team that's capable of winning matches on the back off one of the best bowling attacks in the competition led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan.
Having said that, Sunrisers also roped in Manish Pandey and Shakib al Hasan, who should bolster their previously rickety middle-order, in addition to giving them another genuine bowling option. Rajasthan, on the other hand might be slightly strapped for bowling options, especially with Stokes unlikely to bowl as he is nursing a back injury.
They could take inspiration from the performance of Chennai Superkings, who made a dramatic return to the competition, clinching a one-wicket win over Mumbai Indians in the tournament opener at Wankhede.