CLT20: Will Dravid's Rajasthan Royals tame Highveld Lions?
Following a morale-boosting victory against Mumbai Indians in their opening encounter, Rajasthan Royals will look to double their joy when they take on Highveld Lions in a group A league match of the Champions League Twenty20 tournament in Jaipur on Wednesday.
The Royals have enjoyed massive home success – winning nine consecutive matches at the Sawai Man Singh stadium – and captain Rahul Dravid had said, "The wicket here suits us because we have the batsmen who are good shot-makers, bowlers too know the right areas to bowl on it."
While the Royals have enjoyed a good outing, the Lions have yet to get a feel of things in the tournament. Their match against Perth Scorchers in Ahmedabad was washed out on Monday.
Lions captain Alviro Petersen had just enough time to win the toss and elect to bowl against Perth Scorchers before the persistent deluge arrived to wipe out any chance of play.
Image: Rajasthan Royals captain Rahul Dravid
With Samson, Watson in form, Royals have edge over Lions
The visitors have practiced hard for a week to get used to the conditions in Jaipur and they’d be eager to test their mettle against the inaugural IPL champions Rajasthan Royals.
But Rahul Dravid's men are strong favourites as they have the resources to counter the Lions just as they fought off Mumbai’s challenge.
With Sanju Samson, Ajinkya Rahane, Stuart Binny and Shane Watson all in top form, the Royals have an edge over their South African rivals.
Also, the likes of Brad Hodge, Ashok Menaria, and Kevon Cooper have performed their roles to perfection.
The bowling also has been top notch. Vikramjeet Malik was the surprise against Mumbai while seasoned campaigner James Faulkner was more than handful.
The hosts might be tempted to play youngster Harmeet Singh or veteran Praveen Tambe keeping in view the visitors’ lack of exposure to such conditions.
Image: Sanju Samson
Tsotsobe-Tanvir could give Lions roaring start
Lions had qualified for CLT20’s 2013 edition after winning the Ram Slam T20 Challenge, South Africa's premier T20 event.
Lions batsmen are expected to do their job but with a fine new-ball bowling pair in Sohail Tanvir and Lonwabo Tsotsobe the onus is on the bowlers to call the shots.
Lions' youngster Quinton de Kock and seasoned Neil McKenzie will lead the batting but they may find the going tough in the hot and humid conditions of Jaipur.
Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid (capt), Stuart Binny, Kevon Cooper, James Faulkner, Brad Hodge, Vikramjeet Malik, Ashok Menaria, Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Rahul Shukla, Shaun Tait, Pravin Tambe, Siddharth Trivedi, Shane Watson, Dishant Yagnik.
Lions: Alviro Petersen (Captain), Gulam Bodi, Imran Tahir, Ethan O'Reilly, Dwaine Pretorius, Jean Symes, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Hardus Viljoen, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (w-k), Neil McKenzie, Aaron Phangiso, Sohail Tanvir, Thami Tsolekile (w-k), Rassie van der Dussen.
Image: Lonwabo Tsotsobe
Photographs: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images/Getty Images