Rajasthan Royals vs SunRisers Hyderabad | Photo: Twitter|@IPL
Dubai: Rajasthan Royals (RR) will be looking to keep their playoff hopes alive when they face SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the 40th match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Thursday.
The Steve Smith-led Royals are placed sixth in the standings with eight points and still they have a thin chance of making to the next round. SRH, on the other hand, are a place below them on six points and thus have a four-point gap to bridge.
The RR top-order failed to fire against Chennai Super Kings (CSK). Their ploy of demoting Jos Buttler to number five, however, worked with the England batsman finishing the match unbeaten on 70 and leading the team to victory.
Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson, and Robin Uthappa need to provide a good start while the onus of converting those lies on the shoulders of Buttler and Smith. Samson's performances have fallen off a cliff since the first two matches of the season and he would be looking to get his act together.
Young Riyan Parag and Rahul Tewatia have rescued their side from tricky situations on a number of occassions this season and the top order will be looking to reduce the load on them.
RR's leading wicket-taker Jofra Archer (39 wickets form 31 games) will once again spearhead the pace charge and will seek some support from Stokes, who is yet to create an impact.
The others -- Tewatia, Shreyas Gopal, Ankit Rajpoot and Kartik Tyagi -- were quite economical with the ball against CSK.
SRH, on the other hand, are on the verge of losing a playoff berth and only a win could keep them buoyant. The 2016 champions rely heavily relies on its top four -- Jonny Bairstow, Warner, Manish Pandey and Kane Williamson.
They have remain unable to find a finisher in their middle-order. It is this factor, along with Williamson's injury, that prompted Warner to demote himself lower down the order in their previous game against Kolkata Knight Riders. He ended up pushing the match into a Super Over.
With all eyes on these four players, it would also be a perfect opportunity for young Abdul Samad and Vijay Shankar to deliver in case any of them fails.
After losing the services of experienced Bhuvneshwar Kumar and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, Sandeep Sharma and T Natarajan did well to fill-in the fissure but the duo needs to dish out their best at this crucial juncture.
Rashid Khan, SRH leading wicket-taker with 66 scalps from 55 games, will have to once again lead the entire bowling unit besides continuing with his good show.