New Delhi: Rajasthan Royals eye a hat-trick of wins to enter the semi-finals of the Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) when they meet Perth Scorchers in a Group A tie at Jaipur's Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Sunday.
At home, Rajasthan's defence has looked impregnable with an all-win record since IPL6 earlier this year. The unbeaten streak has stretched to this CLT20 where they have already beaten the reigning IPL champions Mumbai Indians and the South African outfit Highveld Lions to lead the group with eight points.
Perth, on the other hand, are at rock bottom in the group with two points after a loss to HL and a washout in Ahmedabad, which means it's imperative for them to breach the Rajasthan fortress on Saturday to stay in hunt for a top-two finish in the group.
Rajasthan's performance is remarkable in light of the spot-fixing controversy that hit the franchise. Not only have they put that behind but come out as a well-knit unit under the leadership of Rahul Dravid and coach Paddy Upton.
What has served Rajasthan well is the fact that they haven't been dependent on one batsman or one bowler to deliver. Dravid, Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Shane Watson, Stuart Binny, Brad Hodge have all spent fruitful time in the middle.
Among the bowlers, Vikramjeet Malik and Pravin Tambe have been the heroes of their two wins, with good support from James Faulkner and allrounders Watson and Binny. Kevon Cooper is the only bowler who hasn't been up to the scratch and has neither been able to take a wicket nor keep a check on the scoring. He could be replaced by Shaun Tait if the Aussie pacer is available following a hamstring injury.
Perth Scorchers lost to Otago Volts by 62 runs in their second match after their tournament opener against the Lions was washed out. The Aussie bowling unit was hit for 242 runs against Otago, with the Kiwi Neil Broom (117 off 56) sending his neighbours on a leather hunt. Joel Paris & Co will have another tough ask to contain Rajasthan who have been unbeatable at home.
Hilton Cartwright scored a fine 68 off 53 balls against Otago but they will need major contributions from the experienced Simon Katich and Adam Voges to be competitive on Sunday.
Rajasthan Royals: 1 Ajinkya Rahane, 2 Rahul Dravid (capt), 3 Shane Watson, 4 Sanju Samson (wk), 5 Stuart Binny, 6 Brad Hodge, 7 Ashok Menaria, 8 James Faulkner, 9 Kevon Cooper / Shaun Tait, 10 Vikramjeet Malik, 11 Rahul Shukla
Perth Scorchers: 1 Liam Davis, 2 Ashton Agar, 3 Simon Katich (capt), 4 Adam Voges, 5 Hilton Cartwright, 6 Ashton Turner, 7 Tom Triffitt (wk), 8 Joel Paris, 9 Jason Behrendorff, 10, Burt Cockley, 11 Michael Beer