The Indian Premier League's (IPL) homecoming has not been such a happy one for the Rajasthan Royals. The Royals were crowned champions when the tournament was last held in India - the competition was staged in South Africa year due to security concerns - but they have lost both their games this season and suffered their first IPL home defeat on Monday. Injuries to two of their star signings, Graeme Smith and Dmitri Mascarenhas, in that six-wicket loss to the Delhi Daredevils have added to their woes, leaving Shane Warne, the Royals captain, short of batting firepower.
Mascarenhas twisted an ankle in the last game, while Smith fractured a finger when he took a catch to dismiss Virender Sehwag. Both will miss the rest of the series. Warne is already missing Shane Watson, the most valuable player from the 2008 season, who is in the Australia squad for the Test series in New Zealand. The loss of Smith and Mascarenhas now leaves him with just three overseas batting options - Michael Lumb, Damien Martyn and Adam Voges - for tonight's game against the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
"It's a big setback for us as Smith and Dimma are very good players for Royals and their experience will be hugely missed," said Warne as he promised an overhaul after back-to-back defeats. "With these setbacks comes opportunity- we need some players to put their hand up and take responsibility. We back everyone all the time. "Now, everyone's spots will be looked at for the next game. We need to turn around quickly. There are 12 games to go. There is a red panic button, let's not hit that just yet, but the next couple of games are crucial for us."
There are also injury concerns about Yusuf Pathan after he injured his right shoulder while fielding against the Daredevils. If he fails to recover in time, the Royals will be in for a rough ride against the star-studded Challengers, who chased down 204 in a comfortable eight-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab on Tuesday. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org