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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

Cricket

Rajasthan looks to extend royal run
Anand Sachar, Hindustan Times
Pune, April 11, 2013
First Published: 02:17 IST(11/4/2013)
Last Updated: 02:18 IST(11/4/2013)

In cricket, strategies from the drawing board go out of the window in the heat of action. And Rajasthan Royals' (RR) start this season is a testimony to the fact.

They do not have big names who can intimidate the opposition before a game, but they do have handy contributors who have made it count so far.

When the Royals clash with the Pune Warriors India (PWI) in Pune on Thursday, they will be high on confidence, having surprised strong opposition in the first two games. And the hosts are reeling after two defeats in the opening games.

FIGHTING IT OUT
When the Royals defeated the Delhi Daredevils in Kotla, they were without the services of Shane Watson.

Their character came to the fore as they defended 165 from a hopeless position thanks to sharp fielding and a miserly final over from Kevon Cooper.

And the win over Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in Jaipur on Monday has further boosted the self-belief of Rahul Dravid's side.

Not only are KKR the defending champions, they are one of the strongest teams with the likes of Jaques Kallis, Brett Lee and Gautam Gambhir in their team. They were expected to chase 144 with ease, but this time Siddharth Trivedi combined with Cooper to halt KKR's progress.

That Rajasthan came out to practice forty-five minutes before the scheduled time on Wednesday highlighted their keenness to be battle-ready for Pune.

"We are all very excited. The mood in the camp is really good, the momentum is with us. The most important part is we have just defeated the defending champs," Rajasthan wicketkeeper Dishant Yagnik said.

MIND OVER MATTER
He credited coach Paddy Upton, who was India's mental conditioning coach until the 2011 World Cup. "He has been the find of the season. The way he gets into the player's mind and tells him how to handle situations is incredible."

On the other hand, everything is stacked against Pune. Not only have the Warriors lost all the games they have played against Rajasthan, they are struggling to put up a fight.

The hosts were without Yuvraj Singh against the Kings XI Punjab, when they were bundled out for 99.


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