Key players’ absence will hurt Rajasthan Royals (Team Profile)

April 16th, 2009 - 9:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Cape Town, April 16 (IANS) Rajasthan Royals skipper Shane Warne is conscious of the fact that it would not be easy for his side to repeat last year’s sensational feat of winning the Indian Premier League without two key players Sohail Tanveer and Shane Watson in the second edition, starting here Saturday.
The legendary leg-spinner made a specific reference to the loss of the two all-rounders who had played crucial roles in the team’s triumph. Watson was the Player of the Tournament and Tanveer was the leading wicket-taker.

Watson and Tanveer will be ranging against each other in a one-day series between Australia and Pakistan in Dubai and Abu Dhabi next week.

Watson, however, is expected to join the Royals for the last five matches whereas Tanveer will have to sit out as he could come in only in case of an injury to a player as the Pakistani players were not permitted by their government to travel to India for the tournament in view of escalating tensions between the two countries in the post-26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

The Royals, surprisingly, dropped a bombshell Wednesday by deciding to omit India player Mohammad Kaif along with five others to prune the squad. The team management stated that Kaif’s only chance of returning to the side is if any player is injured.

Kaif, who was bought for $675,000 — the team’s highest paid player — was dropped on the basis of his last year’s form, scoring 176 runs in 16 matches at an average of 16, ignoring his utility as a livewire in the field and also his good form in the Ranji Trophy last season.

The other players dropped are Dinesh Salunkhe, Paras Dogra, Anup Revandkar, Srideep Mangela, Ashraf Makda and Azhar Malik. Salunkhe was the legspinner who was included in the 2008 squad through a TV talent-hunt show.

The team will once again rely heavily on Warne, whose captaincy was a revelation as he moulded a bunch of youngsters into a winning combination.

South African skipper Graeme Smith will be a pillar of strength while T20 specialist Yusuf Pathan has proved to be a matchwinner with his clean strikes. They have another T20 specialist in South African Tyron Henderson. The Royals shelled out $650,000 for the hard-hitting batsman who also bowls medium-fast.

Warne has backed an 18-year-old rookie pace sensation Kamran Khan from Uttar Pradesh as the player to watch out for.

Kamran, who is yet to play a first class cricket, gave a good account of himself in a practice match as he bowled Cape Cobras Justin Ontong with a yorker.

Rajasthan Royals will face Kings XI Punjab in the opening match Saturday.

Squad: Shane Warne (captain), Yusuf Pathan, Rob Quiney, Mahesh Rawat, Atul Sharma, Amit Singh, Graeme Smith, Shaun Tait, Siddharth Trivedi, Paul Valthaty, Shane Watson Pushkaraj Chavan, Abdulahad Malik, Abhishek Raut, Gajendra Singh, Aditya Angle, Swapnil Asnodkar, Lee Carseldine, Siddharth Chitnis, Raiphi Gomez, Shane Harwood, Tyron Henderson, Ravindra Jadeja, Kamran Khan, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Mohammed Arif, Parag More, Morne Morkel, Naman Ojha, Munaf Patel, Niraj Patel.

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