New Delhi: Hit by the recent spot-fixing scandal, the Rajasthan Royals will have to come out strong to take on the impressive Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League (IPL) eliminator to be played at the Ferozeshah Kotla here Wednesday.
The Royals and the Sunrisers, who finished third and fourth respectively in the standings, will be vying for the Qualifier Two spot where they will meet the loser of the Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings Qualifier One match Tuesday.
Shaken and stirred, the Jaipur-based Rajasthan Royals are making their first playoff appearance since the inaugural season of 2008 when they emerged champions. The past four seasons, the Royalsn have failed to replicate their 2008 performance but the Rahul Dravid-led side have finally come full circle this season.
Shane Watson has been the most influential player for the Royals, winning them several matches. Skipper Dravid and opener Ajinkya Rahane have also provided excellent starts to the team.
However, their bowling has suffered a set-back after pacer S. Sreesanth and spinners Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila were caught by Delhi Police on spot-fixing charges.
On the other hand, it has been one upswing ride for debutants Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The return of Shikhar Dhawan has boosted the batting of the side which pipped the Royal Challengers Bangalore to enter the playoffs.
The Sunrisers' real strength lies in their bowling, which is power-packed by the best pacer of the times Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma, who have not just struck for the team when needed but also have kept the run-rate in check.
The pacers are backed by leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who also has been vital for the Sunrisers' success this season.
Both teams, with 10 wins each from 16 matches are separated only by net run-rate. They have been strong at home. Rajasthan did not lose a match at Jaipur.
Having said that, the momentum could be with Hyderabad who have won their last two matches while the scandal-hit Royals have lost their last two away games and now play with a distressed and depleted side.