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Onus on Smith to take Royals forward

cricket Updated: May 13, 2009 02:50 IST
Ravi Shastri
Ravi Shastri
Hindustan Times
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After three successive wins, the Rajasthan Royals have two successive losses and their campaign threatens to go off the rails. The champions though can take heart that one of their remaining matches - two if you consider the Mumbai Indians as not one of the best sides-is against the Kolkata Knight Riders. They need to win at least one to keep their semi-final hopes alive. Seven wins is an ideal situation for a team to aspire for the last four stage but six could keep the Royals there about.

The batting form has particularly hit the Royals. It's ironical that the season's highest total of 211 is in their name and so is the best stand of 135 for any wicket. Yet, their batting numbers have been miserable. The best average of the side has been 34 and only two batsmen have just about touched 200 runs. There are just four fifties from 11 matches.

Such numbers naturally leave a huge mess outside opener Graeme Smith's door. The South Africa captain has been a palpable failure. He has a mere 193 from 11 matches. While an assortment of talent has looked up to him, Smith hasn't quite turned up for his side.

The new ball and the first six overs have generally been tough going for the openers, that is, if you discount the likes of Matthew Hayden or Adam Gilchrist. Smith has been no exception though being a local, he ought to have done better.

He has fallen to catches behind the stumps or to leg before dismissals, which is common when the ball is moving around. Yet explanations alone aren't enough to assuage the Royals' hurt. The impatience with Smith must have grown.