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Tuskers seeks to settle scores

Shreedutta Chidananda

Indore: After one look at their net run rates and positions on the points table, Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Rajasthan Royals will realise, as they prepare for Sunday's game at the Holkar Stadium here, that neither has a realistic chance of finishing in the top four.

Kochi's first match at the venue ended in disappointment as Dinesh Karthik and Shaun Marsh feasted on some listless bowling to make short work of what originally appeared a daunting target.

Mahela Jayawardene admitted afterwards that his bowlers needed to come up with serious plans if they were to succeed on Sunday, on what looked an excellent batting pitch.

“They have to realise that merely hitting the deck will not work,” he said.

Fielding four overseas batsmen meant that Kochi's bowling unit — with the exception of R.P. Singh who moved the ball around — looked lightweight on Friday.

Even the usually reliable Vinay Kumar did not escape Karthik's onslaught, conceding 28 runs in his three overs.

Switching positions

Ravindra Jadeja and Parthiv Patel switched batting positions against Punjab, the former arriving at one-drop with the latter relegated to number six.

While it may be undemanding to denounce the move in hindsight, Patel's ability to find gaps could have helped immediately after the fall of Brendon McCullum's wicket, a period in which the side eventually found the run-flow constricted. Owais Shah impressed briefly with his hitting in his debut game for Kochi, and appears the only one, after McCullum, capable of clearing the ropes consistently.

Rajasthan Royals, meanwhile, may boast two of cricket's longest hitters in its ranks, but neither Shane Watson nor Ross Taylor has been as effective as hoped.

Although Watson has been fairly economical in his bowling, he is yet to dominate the way he is known to be capable of, with the bat.

Rahul Dravid has been steadily accumulating runs, as is his wont, at the top of the order but has sorely missed a reliable partner.

Rajasthan's best score this season has been 159, a figure that ranks at number 39 on the list of IPL-IV's highest totals, exemplifying the team's struggles. Shane Warne has been his side's best bowler, largely waging a lone, desperate battle.

The Rajasthan captain has 12 wickets against his name this season, at an economy of 6.20.

Johan Botha, Amit Singh, and Siddharth Trivedi have all offered support at times but appeared nothing more than mediocre.

Warne's participation

There was, however, some speculation over Warne's participation in the tie, with suggestions that the “disciplinary action” the team management had decided to take entailed a one-match ban.

Rahul Dravid, though, said he was unaware of it and that Warne would play if fit. Rajasthan Royals Media Manager Arpit Garg said: “The RCA and RR have reached an agreement internally. It cannot be construed as disciplinary action. It is an internal matter and was not meant to leak outside. Warne will play the next two matches; there is no change there.”

Kochi was bowled out for 109 when the sides met last month, as Rajasthan sailed home by eight wickets.

A repeat of the result will put the side out of the competition.

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