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Aussie battle on Indian soil

Two veteran Australians - Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne - will be pitted against each other when the Kings XI Punjab take on the Rajasthan Royals at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium on Thursday. Ashutosh Sharma reports Matchbox

cricket Updated: Apr 21, 2011 02:03 IST
Ashutosh Sharma

Two veteran Australians - Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne - will be pitted against each other when the Kings XI Punjab take on the Rajasthan Royals at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium on Thursday.

While KXIP have rallied to win two games after the first match loss, the Royals have been patchy. After a great start, which saw them defeating the Deccan Chargers and Delhi Daredevils on the trot, they have let the momentum slip.

Gilchrist would be hoping his team keeps up the good work but the KXIP skipper would be aware of Warne's abilities to rally his team.

Caution in the wind
The wily spinner has no dearth of options in terms of picking the XI. There are big hitters like Shane Watson, Ross Taylor and John Botha, who can take the KXIP attack to task. KXIP have already bled runs and had it not been for Paul Valthaty and Gilchrist's exploits with the bat, they could have lost to the Chennai Super Kings and Chargers.

The Royals have been on a city-hopping trip for the past week and this will technically be their third game if one does not count the washout in Bangalore. Compared to the Royals, who are not short of firepower in batting and bowling, the KXIP middle order is yet to be tested and this is where Dinesh Karthik, Shaun Marsh, David Hussey (if he plays) and Abhishek Nayar will have to come to the party.

Pace vs flair
Shane Tait bowling to the in-form Valthaty would be the key battle in terms of testing the high-flying Mumbaikar.

Till now, Valthaty has treated every bowler he has come up against with disdain. He took apart the strong Chennai attack comprising Suraj Randiv, Albie Morkel and Tim Southee, and against the Chargers, he was in command despite the presence of Daryl Steyn and Ishant Sharma.

He has been a late bloomer and it will be interesting to see how the trio of Warne, Tait and Watson handle Valthaty. The rub of the green has been going his way but the odds might catch up and then the middle order will have to rise to the occasion.

Gilchrist vs Warne
Gilchrist and Warne are no strangers to each other, with the former having kept wickets for the leg-spinner almost throughout his career.

Aware of Warne's ability to spring surprises, Gilchrist said, "He has many talented players in the squad. Few of the Australians and South Africans have already played here and are vastly experienced. He will have plans ready, he thinks a lot about team composition."

On Warne posing a threat, Gilchrist said having bowled in different conditions through his career, the leggie would be a difficult customer.

"Rajasthan Royals are a very dangerous side, a difficult team to play. You are never certain what (playing) eleven is going to walk on to the field... Warne always springs surprises.

"One catch, a run out or a good over can change a lot in a T20 game," he said, emphasising that a team good on paper doesn't guarantee a win on the field.

Gilchrist also heaved praises on IPL's latest find of the season, Paul Valthaty. "His performance has been of the highest class. It is quite extra-ordinary the way he has played," said the skipper.