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Match facts
Wednesday April 7, 2010
Start time 16.00 local time (1030 GMT)

Big picture

Rajasthan Royals have turned around a disappointing start to IPL 2010 by winning five of their last seven matches after losing their first three, and have put themselves firmly in contention for a semi-final berth. They still have some work to do, but they'll have made significant strides towards that goal if they beat the whipping boys of the tournament, Kings XI Punjab, in Jaipur on Wednesday.

Punjab have lost seven out of nine games so far, but Rajasthan will need to guard against complacency as Punjab have several match-winners who can turn games around on their day. One of them, Mahela Jayawardene, played an absolute gem to derail Kolkata on Sunday, and with Yuvraj Singh and Kumar Sangakkara showing signs of returning to form as well, this could just be the beginning of some good times for Punjab.

Shane Warne was at his magical best in the stunning come-from-behind win against Deccan on Monday, but he'll have a job on his hands to ensure that the team comes down from the highs of that game and gets ready for another scrap. It'll be Rajasthan's first game in Jaipur - they've played their home games in Ahmedabad so far - and that could act as a further inspiration for Warne and his men. With games against Mumbai and Bangalore to follow after this, Rajasthan also need a win to ensure they don't leave themselves with too much to do in the last three matches.

Form guide (most recent first)

Rajasthan Royals WLLWW
Kings XI Punjab WLLLL

Team talk

Both teams are coming off wins, and might be loathe to change their combinations. Jayawardene's slot at the top of the order has strengthened Punjab's line-up considerably, though their bowling remains a bit of a concern.

Rajasthan, meanwhile, have been bolstered by the inclusion of Shane Watson, who made a vital contribution with the bat against Deccan. The mature and cool-headed performance by Siddharth Trivedi, and the aggression of Morne Morkel has eased some of their bowling worries too.


Rajasthan 3 Punjab 2 In the first two IPLs, both teams shared the wins equally. Rajasthan won by six wickets at home in 2008, and Punjab repeated the feat, winning by 41 runs in Mohali. In 2009 too, the teams split the wins. Rajasthan won the first encounter of 2010 by 31 runs, which suggests it might be Punjab's turn to even things.

In the spotlight

Warne v Jayawardene/Sangakkara: Warne has regained some of zip and bounce that he seemed to have lost in the early stages of the tournament, but if Jayawardene stays at the crease long enough, it could be fascinating battle between the two. Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara are outstanding players of spin bowling, and the manner in which Jayawardene handled Murali Kartik, one of the most economical spinners in the competition so far, suggests Warne could come under pressure as well.

Shane Watson: He has been magnificent with the bat in his two innings, scoring 118 in a mere 61 balls, but Warne will expect more from Watson the bowler - he has an economy-rate of 12.42 in seven overs. Rajasthan will be a much stronger force if he lifts his performance with the ball.

Mahela Jayawardene: His century against Kolkata was full of silken, effortless drives, deft cuts and dabs. Can he repeat that class act in Jaipur?

Prime numbers

* Punjab have the worst economy rate in the tournament so far - 8.85 - while Rajasthan are next at 8.73.

* Yuvraj has done pretty well in his five previous matches against Rajasthan, scoring 171 runs at an average of 34.20 and a strike rate of 9.96 runs per over. Yusuf Pathan has only managed an average of 19.20 against Punjab, at a rate of 9.76 per over.

* Four out of five matches between these two teams have been won by the team batting first.

The chatter

"In Twenty20 you have 24 balls to bowl and it's all about the right ball at the right time. No point in bowling big ripping leg breaks. It's all about setting up the batsman, bowling fast and slow, and bringing in the variations."
Shane Warne

"We are taking it game by game and are pleased to have broken the losing trend. We are not concerned over what happened in the past. We have started to get into gear and create opportunities to go up the ladder."
Tom Moody, the Punjab coach

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