T20 Match Preview: Rajasthan Royals Vs Chennai Super King
Venue and Conditions:
First game of the double header on Sunday is a repeat of the 2008 season’s final showdown – the Rajasthan Royals versus the Chennai Super Kings. The game will be played at Rajasthan’s second home at Motera in Ahmedabad, and both teams come in with contrasting fortunes in the week past.
The Sadam Partel stadium surface in Ahmedabad does not look to be full of runs. Sides have struggled to post big scores first up this year with totals of 148, 168 and 141.
Rajasthan have chalked up a hat-trick of victories while Chennai have suffered a hat-trick of defeats.
After three demoralizing losses on the trot, the Royals have scripted a fairytale turnaround to win three straight games. After languishing at the bottom of the pile initially, they are now up to third in the points table in the blink of an eye, and this just goes on to prove just how quickly things can turn around in this format.
Despite the loss of key men like Graeme Smith and Dimitri Mascarenhas, Rajasthan have been galvanised. Hampshire’s Michael Lumb and Yusuf Pathan have been to the fore. The spunky young Faiz Fazal was drafted in and started contributing right away.
Yusuf Pathan played his second massive innings of the season after his hundred in Mumbai, carting 8 sixes against Deccan to win the match on his own. In the preceding couple of games, Adam Voges provided great finishes with his hard-hitting prowess, and ensured Rajasthan accounted for the last 5 overs well.
With the batsmen firing, the bowlers got back their confidence, led by a resurgent and disciplined Tait as he bowled two fabulous spells against Punjab and Deccan to pick 3 scalps in either game. Siddharth Trivedi bowled intelligently to restrict the opposition in the middle overs. Yusuf Pathan’s offspin continued to get wickets and finally, the Sultan of Spin, Warney got it right against the Chargers in a spell of crafty bowling that read 1-15 in 4.
MS Dhoni is fit again but even his canny captaincy can’t hide the fact that his bowlers are struggling. His absence was most conspicuous in the loss in the Super Over against Kings XI Punjab, when after an opening stand of 65, Chennai somehow contrived to fail to get past a meager target of 136. Had Dhoni been there, his stability would have easily guided them through.
The bowling, as always, is still the weakest link, as, apart from Muralitharan, nobody has excelled with any degree of consistency. Ravichandran Ashwin started off as the preferred second spinner, but was replaced in the last game by Shadab Jakati, as his performances kept getting more and more expensive day by day. Jakati failed to impress against Mumbai, but is unlikely to be discarded after one ordinary game.
The Mongoose, a lot of the buzz pre-season about the CSK was concerning Big Matt’s small bat – the long handled Mongoose. it has walked the walk just the once against the Delhi Daredevils. Just one major success in 6 games is hardly like the Hayden we know, so the Rajasthan bowlers beware, the Mongoose is on the prowl.
Despite Shane Warne working some magic – are Rajasthan good enough to win four straight, or Chennai bad enough to lose four straight for that matter?
Question remains on batting and they are heavily reliant on Pathan smiting some mighty strikes. Chennai’s problem has been their bowling. They could not defend 180 against Mumbai but Rajasthan’s batting is far less fearsome.
Much depends on how Chennai bats. Batting is their strength and they have the firepower to score anything against any attack. If they click, it is their game. Else, Rajasthan in this form will be hard to beat, especially with the Chennai bowling as weak as it is
Rajasthan have their nose in front with a slim 3-2 lead, although all 3 wins came in the first season. The two league games were won comfortably, with Sohail Tanvir routing Chennai with 6-14 in the first and a powerhouse batting display putting on an unassailable 211 in the second, before the thrilling final that was won off the last ball. Chennai came back strongly in season 2, first chasing 140 with 8 wickets in hand and then winning by 38-run margin, powered by Raina’s 98.