The Chennai Super Kings were impressive in their recent win over the Royal Challengers and they have an opportunity to build on that victory when they host the Rajasthan Royals in Chennai on Saturday. It promises to be an exciting mid-table clash, with the winner breaking into the top half of the table.
Venue and conditions:
Known for its distinct pitch characteristics, with that extra zip and bounce off the wicket, the MA Chidambaram Stadium, formerly known as Chepauk, has been hosting internationals since 1934.
The Kings Host:
Had Chennai lost to Bangalore in their previous game they would have had a real mountain to climb to reach the semi finals. As it turns out, they still have plenty to do after losing five of their first eight matches but there is renewed optimism amongst their followers. The five wicket win ended a run of four successive defeats, one of which came against the Royals.
Chennai got a much needed win against their neighbors Royal Challengers Bangalore on Wednesday night but this time around it wasn’t the “mongoose” bat wielding Matthew Hayden, but young Indian opening batsman Murali Vijay, who stole the show with a blistering knock of 78 from 39 balls, striking at an awesome rate of 200. With the impressive Suresh Raina and hard hitting Dhoni in their batting ranks, a decent start at the top of the order is what is required for CSK to pile on the runs on the board. Also, with Michael Hussey likely to join the squad for the game against the Royals, Chennai might have to re-jig their combination in order to accommodate the Aussie middle order batsman.
MS Dhoni must be a worried man because of the ineffectiveness of his pace bowlers. South African all rounder Albie Morkel has been short on confidence ever since the start of IPL III. Chennai have tried Lakhsmipathy Balaji, Sudeep Tyagi, Joginder Sharma and Manpreet Singh Gony as the third seamer. None of them have been able to either hold one end tight or pick up wickets regularly.
The spin duo of Muralitharan and Shadab Jakati, have been bailing Chennai out of tricky situations. Chennai just might want to have a rethink about their approach and maybe even go into the game with three front line spinners – unheard of yes in the IPL, but perhaps worth the gamble.
The Royal Visitors:
Shane Warne’s team was beaten out of sight by the Daredevils on Wednesday. That ended a sequence of four successive wins which had seen the Royals rise dramatically from bottom of the log to semi final contenders. Warne was obviously disappointed with the display in the post match interview but he is more capable than most of raising the spirits. The Rajasthan Royals once again find themselves in an uneasy position of trying to get back the all important momentum.
Victoria right hand batsman Aaron Flinch, who was included in the squad to replace the injured South African skipper Graeme Smith, looks likely to open the innings instead of Michael Lumb along with Naman Ohja. The likes of Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, Paras Dogra and Faiz Fazal have to show more consistency with the bat to justify their selection in the team. The two big hitters Yusuf Pathan and Adam Voges have been in good nick for the Royals this season and Captain Warne will be banking on them once again against Chennai Super Kings.
The Aussie speedster Shaun Tait’s erratic form must be a real worry for Shane Warne. His worst outing in the Indian Premier League against the Delhi Daredevils as he was smacked to all parts of the ground. In Siddharth Trivedi and Sumit Narwal, RR have a decent back up options as far as the pace bowling is concerned. And Pathan, Voges and Warne himself have kept things quiet with their accurate spin bowling.
Best: Yusuf Pathan, Naman Ojha, Shaun Tait
Struggling: Munaf Patel, Sumit Narwal
Best: Suresh Raina, Matthew Hayden, Muttiah Muralitharan
Struggling: Parthiv Patel, Justin Kemp
Yusuf Pathan: The languid and hard hitting Pathan can turn any match on its head
MS Dhoni: Captain Cool has been quiet since his return from injury and a big knock from Mahi looks just round the corner.
Super Kings (WLLLL)
CSK vs. RCB – CSK won by 5 wickets
RR vs. CSK – RR won by 17 runs
MI vs. CSK – MI won by 5 wickets
RCB vs. CSK – RCB won by 36 runs
CSK vs. KXIP – KXIP won the one-over eliminator
Rajasthan Royals (LWWWW)
DD vs. RR – DD won by 67 runs
RR vs. CSK – RR won by 17 runs
RR vs. DC – RR won by 8 wickets
KXIP vs. RR – RR won by 31 runs
RR vs. KKR – RR won by 34 runs
Rajasthan has edge over Chennai by winning 4 out of 6 games played in between them.
Rajasthan defeated Chennai in the league stages, home and away, in the inaugural IPL before getting the better of them in the final.
Chennai got their revenge in the second edition in South Africa as they trounced the Royals at Centurion by 38 runs before inflicting another convincing defeat on them in Kimberly.
The Royals set Chennai a target of 178 in the previous meeting and although Chennai started the chase well enough, Warne got his bowling combinations spot on and strangled the Super Kings who came up 17 runs short.
The men in yellow seemed to have finally discovered their winning touch and with a strong batting line-up and spin wizard Murali in great form, they could prove to be too hot to handle for the Royals.
The Super Kings are still not out of the woods after their disappointing first half of the campaign so there is still plenty of pressure on MS Dhoni. I’m not totally convinced by Chennai so far but with home advantage this time I do think their batting line up can carry them to victory here.