It's that time of the tournament when every team begins to set eyes on the points table. It's that time when permutations and combinations surrounding qualification scenarios are drawn out.
As always, the race to the top four is set to be a heated one this year as well with all teams mathematically still in with a chance. Saturday (April 27) will be a rare weekend single header, with Rajasthan Royals taking on Sunrisers Hyderabad in Jaipur.
Royals kept their tournament alive, beating Kolkata Knight Riders on Thursday to go to eight points from 11 games. Hyderabad have ten points from as many games, and can even aim for a top two finish.
Hyderabad are coming off a defeat, having lost to Chennai Super Kings in Chennai. Their real challenge starts now, as they no longer have Jonny Bairstow, who has gone back to England. David Warner won't be around for the entire duration too, so they have to get as many wins as they can while he is around.
Kane Williamson, who missed the previous game after the death of his grandmother, is set to return as captain.
Like the Sunrisers, Rajasthan too will be hit by the exit of Englishmen. Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer are no longer available, and Royals will have to change around their combination. Archer in particular is a big loss considering his form with the ball and late contributions with the bat.
Sunrisers won by five wickets in Hyderabad. Rajasthan had scored 198 for 2 with Sanju Samson scoring a century, but David Warner's 37-ball 69 helped the hosts win with an over to spare.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Riyan Parag: The teenager has already begun making waves, with two handy contributions in the last two matches, against Mumbai Indians and KKR. His composure has made even captain Steve Smith say that he's setting an example for the others in the side. Riyan can also bowl spin, which will come in handy. In the absence of some seniors, it's over to youngsters like him to step up.
Manish Pandey: He finally got his No. 3 spot, and made it count with a half-century against CSK. It wasn't enough to win them that game, but Pandey might have just sealed his spot and solved Hyderabad's middle-order woes. With Bairstow gone, Pandey's role will be crucial.
Rajasthan: Archer and Stokes have left for England. Ashton Turner and Ish Sodhi/Liam Livingston will be in contention.
Hyderabad: Bairstow is gone, and Williamson should return.
Rajasthan: Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson(w), Steven Smith(c), Riyan Parag, Stuart Binny, Ashton Turner, Shreyas Gopal, Ish Sodhi/Liam Livingston, Jaydev Unadkat, Oshane Thomas, Varun Aaron
Hyderabad: David Warner, Wridhiman Saha/Shreevats Goswami (w), Kane Williamson (c), Manish Pandey, Vijay Shankar, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan/Deepak Hooda, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sandeep Sharma/Sidharth Kaul, K Khaleel Ahmed
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First Published: April 27, 2019, 7:42 AM IST