Rajasthan Royals vs Royal Challengers Bangalore: Watson, Gayle face off in Royal Rumble Two
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At one point during the first half of the tournament, the Rajasthan Royals were on top of the points table but lose to the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday, and the side could slip out of the top four. A win for Bangalore, on the other hand, will put them back on top (after Chennai took over on Sunday by beating KKR).
There is little doubt that Shane Watson holds the key to the batting fortunes of Rajasthan. Ajinkya Rahane (227 runs) had a steady start to the tournament, making 28 or more in his first five innings, but has gone off the boil since. Rahul Dravid (222 runs) too has been sedate, but their strike rates (a shade over a run a ball) has been possible mainly because of the exploits of Watson (273 runs at s/r of 154.23) from the other end. He comes in having made 101 and 98* in his last two games.
Gayle: Uneasy calm
If it's Watson for Rajasthan, it will of course be Chris Gayle that will provide the thrust for Bangalore. He had a quiet game against Mumbai, and in a big chase, the side's batsmen folded subsequently.
Coming off the big loss, and a rare Gayle failure this season, both the side and the West Indian batsman will look to return to winning ways. The Sawai Mansingh Stadium though, has been a bit of a fortress for Rajasthan, where they have won all four games this season. The wicket traditionally offers good pace and carry, and at the top of the order will be a crucial match-up between the wearers of the orange and violet caps.
Left-arm pacer James Faulkner moved to the top of the wicket-taker's list with a five-for against Hyderabad and will be up against the might of Gayle. However, considering Dravid's ability to spring a surprise at the top, and the side's rotation policy, the clash may not come to pass.