Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad will square off in a must-win Indian Premier League game on Thursday, where the inexperienced young guns in both teams will be looking to make an impression. Whether it is Priyam Garg, Abdul Samad of Sunrisers or Kartik Tyagi, Riyan Parag of the Royals, the youngsters from both sides will be feeling the pressure of doing something out of the box in case their illustrious seniors fail in that pursuit.
The Sunrisers are currently tottering at the second last place in the eight-team table with just six points from nine game while Royals are a notch ahead with eight points after their comprehensive win over Chennai Super Kings in the previous game. SRH can't afford to slip up even one bit since another loss would rule them out of the play-offs race. The Royals would hope to continue with the winning momentum and hope that their foreign recruits continue to perform like they did against CSK. They got their campaign back on track after two heavy defeats and would also have the edge over SRH, which lost to KKR in the Super Over in their previous game.
Losing Super Over contests often push teams back as KXIP found out after their opening loss to Delhi Capitals. One more loss would make it extremely difficult for the Royals to stay alive. While Jofra Archer continues to be the backbone of Royals' bowling attack, the wrist-spinning duo of Shreyas Gopal and Rahul Tewatia were terrific in the middle overs against CSK and skipper Smith would be hoping for an encore from his bowlers on Thursday.
In batting, Jos Buttler looked in ominous form the other night, forcing Smith to play the second fiddle but RR would need more consistent partnerships upfront. "I have been doing ok, not quite scored as many runs as I would've liked to and help the team win matches," Buttler said on the eve of the match.
The opener is happy that Royals as a team has found some momentum going their way. "We have started to play better in the last few matches. We probably should have won the last three but have only managed to win one of those, so we now have four matches remaining, all of which are must-win for us. We will need to win all our games to give us a chance of making the playoffs," Buttler said, while admitting there is a gap between top and bottom four.
"There's obviously a bit of a gap between the top 4 and us and we know the equation for us, so we move on to the next game with a hope to do well and hopefully win against the Sunrisers."
All-rounder Ben Stokes is yet to fire and Robin Uthappa has been their weakest link so far, which might prompt Smith to give a go to someone like Punjab dasher Manan Vohra. The other aspect that hurt them is Sanju Samson's form which like every other year has gone from good to bad and now worse.
SRH, on the other hand, would still be smarting from the Super Over loss to Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday. David Warner and Co. would definitely be hurt by that loss but they need to come out of that setback quickly and re-strategise if they want to keep themselves afloat in the T20 event. The team heavily relies on its batting unit, mainly on the top four comprising Jonny Bairstow, Warner, Manish Pandey and Kane Williamson.